Bipartisan Bill Seeks To Improve

U.S.-China Cultural Ties


Bipartisan Bill Seeks To Improve U.S.-China Cultural Ties

Legislation would expand cultural exchanges between U.S., Chinese



Passage of the United States-China Cultural Engagement Act of 2005


be an investment in America's future, says Senator Joseph Lieberman

(Democrat from Connecticut).


"This act will expand student physical exchange programs with China as

well as create a virtual exchange infrastructure for secondary school

students that study Chinese," Lieberman said May 25 in remarks

introducing the bill to the Senate.


The proposed legislation, S. 1117, would authorize $1.3 billion in

federal funds over five years to provide for Chinese language

instruction in American schools, increase American consular activity

supporting American commercial activity in China and provide for

physical and virtual exchanges among a broad spectrum of individuals in

the two nations.


Lieberman said S. 1117 also includes visa initiatives that would "offer

the Department of State more flexibility in granting visa to Chinese

scientists to come here and study at academic institutions."


Lieberman is the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and

Governmental Affairs Committee and a member of the Senate Armed




Senator Lamar Alexander (Republican from Tennessee), who co-sponsored

the bill, said at a press conference the same day: "It's my hope that

the United States will spend some of our time and money getting to know

China better, and that Chinese citizens will spend time getting to know



Alexander is the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and

Pensions Subcommittee on Education and Early Childhood Development and


member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.


Lieberman said: "The rise of China comes with a whole set of


But the ability to talk to and understand each other should not be




Following is the text of Lieberman's remarks, as published in the

Congressional Record:


(begin text)


Congressional Record

Volume 151, Number 71, page S5926

May 25, 2005


Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I rise to introduce a bill that aims to

redefine and enhance the relationship between the People's Republic of

China and the United States of America.


At this point in our history we stand at the threshold of a new era in

American Foreign policy and indeed of world history. For the first time

ever an economic and military superpower is about to emerge without war

or catastrophe: Asia's middle kingdom: the People's Republic of China,

stands at the precipice of becoming one of the two most influential

nations on Earth.


I have always held that our foreign policy is best conducted when our

values as a Nation form the basis of our policies. With that in mind, I

stand before you today to introduce legislation that will deepen the

scope and breadth of America's relationship with China through the

reaching out of our Nation's hand in friendship.


We introduce this with a bit of humility because history constantly

shows us that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Fortunately American history is filled with good ideas to guide us.


Back in 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant told Congress that trade

imbalances with China were threatening the viability of key United

States' industries and warned that federal intervention might be needed

to restore the balance of trade.


That is true today and I am both sponsoring and supporting legislation

to fairly revalue the Yuan so that U.S. industries and workers enjoy a

fair playing field in the global market.


But Grant also thought many problems with China could be solved if we

just better understood Chinese language and culture. He proposed


at least four American students a year to China to study the language

and culture and who would then act as effective translators for


and government officials.


Grant's idea was never acted on and years of unfortunate history

separated China from the rest of the world anyway.


But China is back and so are the challenges.


Those versed in international affairs and trade are fully aware of

China's emerging influence. However, our present education system is


equipped to supply the number of skilled professionals required to

constructively interact with China. According to the 2000 Census there

are about 2.2 million Americans that speak Chinese. Of that 2.2


approximately 85-95 percent are Americans of Chinese descent. According

to several studies there is a dearth of knowledge among college-bound

students regarding Chinese cultural pillars like Mao Zedong in the

United States. China, on the other hand, mandates English instruction

beginning in -- what we would call -- the third grade. For every


we send to China to study there, they send 25 to study here.


If you combine these findings with the fact that well over half of the

500 largest companies are currently invested in China, with many more

drawing up plans to do so, it becomes clear to me that the talent pool

for future American-produced leaders with expertise in Chinese affairs

is woefully inadequate. If you take a look at China's top ten trading

partners, seven of those have a trade surplus with China and most

importantly, five of those seven have a significant population with

deep-seated knowledge of Chinese language and culture. America needs

more people with the expertise to transact with China in international

affairs and to increase the number of professionals that will assist

both nations in growing and balancing our economic interdependency.


The future repercussions of our lack of knowledge about Chinese culture

are immense. The Chinese have just begun to compete with U.S. firms for

precious natural resources to feed the exponential growth of their

economy. China is the world's biggest consumer of steel and in another

decade will be the biggest consumer of petroleum. Currently, China's

middle class is the fastest growing anywhere in the world. Over 400 of

the world's Fortune 500 companies are invested in China's economy,


will soon be the largest consumer market in the world. Already, our

trade with Asia is double that with Europe and is expected to exceed


trillion dollars annually before 2010. China, soon to be the biggest

economic power in Asia, will play a large role in that growth.

Consequently, the one in six U.S. jobs that are currently tied to

international trade will grow substantially. If the U.S. is to grab a

significant piece of China's burgeoning consumer market, we must begin

by engaging China as experts of their culture.


The United States-China Cultural Engagement Act of 2005 authorizes $1.3

billion over the five years after its enactment. This is a symbolic

gesture for the recent birth of China's one billion three hundred

millionth citizen. One may argue that is too much given other important

-- under-funded -- national priorities. However, the dividend from this

investment in our future business and government leaders pays for


a hundred or even a million times over in opportunities for economic

growth and in potential foreign crises that will be averted.


In this legislation, I propose to significantly enhance our schools and

academic institutions' ability to teach Chinese language and culture

from elementary school through advanced degree studies. This act will

expand student physical exchange programs with China as well as create


virtual exchange infrastructure for secondary school students that


Chinese. Initiatives were included, that offer the Department of State

more flexibility in granting visas to Chinese scientists to come here

and study at American academic institutions. For American businesses, I

seek a substantial increase in Foreign Commercial Service officers

stationed in China to uncover and facilitate more American export

opportunities. For non-corporate entrepreneurs, provisions that provide

for the expansion of state specific export centers and greater Small

Business Administration outreach were also included.


Engaging China as an ally in international affairs and as a partner in

building economic prosperity is of the utmost importance to the United

States. Only if we succeed in fostering this relationship can we have a

future that is as bright as our past. Education experts, corporate

leaders, and even some government officials have talked for sometime

about the convergence of economic, demographic, and national security

trends that require our young people to attain a greater level of

international knowledge and skills to be successful as workers and

citizens in our increasingly dynamic American economy.


The rise of China comes with a whole set of challenges. But the ability

to talk to and understand each other should not be among them.


The United States-China Cultural Engagement Act sets forth a strategy

for achieving that level of understanding and cooperation with China, I

urge my colleagues to look favorably upon this measure.


(end text)


(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.

Department of State. Web site: