Student program of the 4th China-U.S. relations conference

Date: 12/3/2009

The 4th China–U.S. Relations Conference, “Looking Ahead After 30 Years,” was held from October 21st to October 23rd in Beijing, to honor the 30th anniversary of China-U.S. diplomatic relationship. Texas A&M University has partnered with the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation to co-sponsor and organize four China-U.S. Relations Conferences since 2003. The conference series has become one of the largest of its kind in terms of scope and status, garnering strong support from both the Chinese and U.S. governments for its encouragement of dialogue.
One of the important elements of this year’s conference is its student program. Organized and sponsored by Hanban (Chinese Language Office International), this year’s student program invited twenty-six college students from each country to attend this biennial conference. The fifty-two students were from five American Confucius Institutes and their respective partner universities, including Texas A&M University, University of Oklahoma, University of Kansas, University of Nebraska, Ocean University of China, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Beijing Normal University and East China Normal University. Among the participating institutions Texas A&M University and Ocean University of China played a major role in organizing and planning the event.
The participating students were composed of the best candidates from each university and took part in a series of training on Chinese and American languages, cultures, politics, and economics. The student representatives from both countries met in Beijing on October 18 and started their journey towards mutual understanding and discovery.
On October 19, students visited the headquarters of Hanban and the Confucius Institute. Ms. Liang Xueming, Deputy Director ofConfucius Institute Affairs of Hanban, hosted the visit. During her interaction with the students Ms. Liang expressed hope that the students will contribute to furthering the cultural and linguistic understanding between China and the U.S. While at Hanban Headquarters, students were given an opportunity to take-in exhibits within the Chinese Culture Exhibition Hall that featured various facets of Chinese culture including calligraphy, traditional painting, Beijing opera, sculpture, terra-cotta warriors and traditional musical instruments.
In addition to the visit to Hanban headquarters the students also visited culturally significant places within Beijing such as Tian’anmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Beijing Chinese Medical Hospital, the Great Wall, Olympic Museums and Laoshe Tea House. The combination of ancient culture and modern technologies helped to widen the horizon of the student representatives.
On the morning of October 22nd student representatives had the opportunity to meet Zhao Guocheng, Deputy Director of Hanban, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi and U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman. In the welcome speech, Deputy Director Zhao gave the following address.
“On behalf of Hanban I welcome your visit. … Looking back the past 30 years since China and U.S. restored diplomatic relationship, we see profound relation and friendship been built. I believe that our future is even brighter. It is a pleasure for the Confucius Institute to sponsor this event and contribute more to the future development of this bilateral relation. ”
During their meeting with Minister Yang and Ambassador Huntsman the student representatives were given a chance to discuss important issues with the two statesmen such as the China-U.S. relations, trade, and economic recovery.
In addition to the formal meetings that took place within the conference, students were able to participate in other forms of activities to help promote exchange and understanding. For example, U.S. and Chinese students shared hotel rooms with students from the other country during the week of the conference. The hotel arrangements were, perhaps, a small step towards the realization of Minister Yang Jiechi’s hope for the students to learn a foreign language, make a foreign friend, and know a foreign country. The interaction between the two sides also garnered media attention as press briefings by the students in the conference hall were recorded by CCTV.
The China – U.S. Relations Conference provided participating students with a great opportunity to understand the bilateral relationship between China and the U.S. The students attended the entire conference and assisted with the organization and coordination of the various aspects of the event.
When asked about their impression of China, an American student replied, “Chinese people are very diligent. I often see them walking in a hurry on the street. Every American should personally come and take a look at China to help eliminate misunderstandings.” Another student remarked that he saw the dynamic growth of Chinese economy and believed that China will have a great future.
On the 30th anniversary of the resumption of diplomatic ties between China and the U.S., it is especially significant to spread the seeds of peace and friendship among the next generation and to create an environment in which they can develop comprehensive skills for future China–U.S. relations.

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