Spellings hails 'historic' Sino-US education deal

By Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-11-18 09:12

Chinese and US students will have greater access to educational exchange
programmes as the two countries have agreed to expand and promote
educational co-operation.

Further co-operation in higher education, language learning and teaching,
and primary and secondary education were highlighted in a memorandum of
understanding signed by education ministers from both countries on Thursday.

Margaret Spellings, US secretary of education, described the memorandum as
"historic" at a breakfast panel discussion hosted by the China Chamber of
Commerce on Friday in Beijing, the last stop of her East Asia tour following
Tokyo and Seoul.

She said the United States is "deadly serious" about promoting educational
co-operation and exchanges with China. Her delegation, consisting of 12 US
university presidents, is the first ever high-profile delegation of US
college and university presidents to China.

"It is even more compelling that on this first ever delegation, China is one
of the firsts of the first, as our trip starts from East Asia," Spellings

Education co-operation and exchanges between the United States and China
have been developing rapidly in recent years. More than 63,000 Chinese
students are currently studying in the United States, while there has also
been a rise in the number of US students studying in China.

A recent report from the New York-based Institute of International
Education, one of the world's largest international education organizations,
shows that 6,389 US students came to China in the 2005-06 academic year, up
35 per cent year-on-year. The report also lists China as the only Asian
country among the top 10 popular destinations for US students to study

Spellings said she is pleased with the numbers but not satisfied. "US
students do want to come to study in China, and we need to help them do that
as well as to help Chinese students to come to our country."

Both Spellings and Dina Powell, US assistant secretary of state, who also
led the delegation, emphasized that the United States will further
streamline the visa application process, making it easier for foreign
students, including those from China.

"We've been working hard on that issue, and the problems have been
diminished," she said.

Last year, the United States issued a record high of 600,000 student and
exchange visas, among which about 19,000 were given to Chinese students.
Meanwhile, more than 97 per cent of qualified student applicants obtained
their visas within a matter of days.

(China Daily 11/18/2006 page1)