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|according to the article. china has started to send top officials to learn in the US from 1990s, but the US only began to do so this year. what does this mean? the US doesn't think learn from china is useful and meaningful? after the financial turmoil, the US realized that it's better to learn from the rival and decided to "lower itself" to send officials to study in china? |
south China morning post
Top US officials study in China for first time
Washington has sent 17 senior officials to an elite Chinese university on a training programme, the first of its kind, intended to help the US government learn more about China.
The organiser of the week-long programme at Tsinghua University, which has been in preparation for two years, said it was designed to bridge the gaps in understanding between two countries whose diplomatic relationship has become one of the most important in the world.
The participants in the US-China Government Executive Global Leadership Course, which ended on Friday, attended lectures and round-table discussions with leading academics who have been involved in government decision-making. The officials included executives and heads of 12 US government departments and organisations - among them the departments of homeland security and commerce, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Federal Executive Institute.
While China has sent batches of officials to the US for similar courses since the 1990s, this was the first time the training had gone in the other direction, said Professor Sun Zhe, the programme's planner and director of the Centre for US-China Relations at the university in the capital.
"The US government has begun to attach importance to China in its training for officials in recent years," Sun said.
He said the programme was first conceived to correct the imbalance of educational exchanges between the two governments.
"China has sent so many officials to learn about the US, and finally there is a course to let the American officials to learn about China," he said.
The US has been the favoured destination for China's training programmes about Western powers. Hand-picked officials are sent to top institutions such as the Harvard Kennedy School and Georgetown University to learn the ropes.
Sun said another programme would be scheduled around the same time next year. "We hope to make this an ongoing programme, but it takes a lot of effort and time to prepare, so we don't know what will happen after next year," he said.
To avoid the impression the intent was brainwashing, Sun said the course was designed to allow candid discussions between the officials and the scholars.
"There were different opinions on some issues, such as China's rising economic clout in the region," he said. "But the students and the teachers had the opportunity to express themselves freely without having to arrive at a conclusion. This helped to narrow the gaps."
Rear Admiral Yang Yi, former head of strategic studies at the National Defence University under the People's Liberation Army, told the class that the US military was the greatest perceived threat to the PLA, state media said.
Other issues touched on in the programme included China's political system, military strategies and energy policies. Sun said efforts were made to have speakers who were fluent in English to allow discussions with the students.
An official with the US Department of Health and Human Services, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had gained a lot of understanding of the broader structure of the Chinese government and how things work in the country through the programme.
"We covered a broad regime of topics," he said. "We talked about 1989, Taiwan, Tibet, energy policy, military, everything you can imagine that would normally be difficult to have discussions about between the two governments. We were able to have very open discussions.
"It's a very good venue to have these kinds of discussions, because normally when the governments come together there is not really discussion. So I think it has been very helpful."
The US officials, many of whom were visiting China for the first time, were also taken to tourist spots such as the Great Wall and shopping areas during their stay. They also visited the Foreign Ministry and had a round- table discussion with mainland journalists.