Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Yesui at
The Fifth National Chinese Language Conference
April 12, 2012
President Gaston Caperton,
Senator Chuck Hagel,
Ambassador John Negroponte,
Director General Xu Lin,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great honor and privilege to attend the Fifth National Chinese Language Conference in the United States. I would like to first extend my congratulations to Asia Society, the College Board and Hanban for organizing the Conference. I also want to thank all the participants for your support and commitment to this particular initiative, and more broadly, to the promotion of Chinese language learning and teaching in the US as well as the educational and cultural exchanges and cooperation between our two countries.
China-US relationship has become one of the most important and dynamic bilateral relations in the world. Our economies have never been so closely interconnected. In the era of globalization and given the size and the degree of interconnectedness of our two countries, China and the United States can be regarded as a community of interests. This relationship is not, and should not be a zero-sum game relationship. We both emerge as winners if we work together as true partners. There is every reason to believe that if we manage our differences well, China and the United States can establish a new model of relationship under which two big countries can coexist peacefully and develop together.
Amity among people is key to sound state to state relations. People-to-people exchange between China and the US has been a driving force for the growth and deepening of bilateral relations. As of today, as many as over three million people in our two countries travel across the Pacific each year. There are 38 sister provinces/states and 176 pairs of sister cities between the two countries. By 2011, 160,000 students from China's mainland are now studying in the United States, making China the largest source of foreign students in the US. Currently, there are about 20,000 American students studying in China.
In 2010, the China-US High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, co-chaired by State Councilor Liu Yandong and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was established. This mechanism provides a framework for promoting interactions in education, science, technology, culture, youth and women affairs between our two countries. The third round of the High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange will be held in Beijing next month.
Language is an important tool to help people from different cultures and backgrounds to better understand each other. It is important for our two peoples, especially young people to learn each other's language and get a deeper understanding of each other. Currently there are about three hundred million people learning English in China, and learning Chinese is becoming increasingly popular in the US. Chinese is now the second largest foreign language in the US. We are very happy that the "100,000 Strong" Initiative announced by President Obama in 2009 is well underway, and will reach the target by 2014, and many of them will be studying Chinese. This is of great significance, because with our younger generation being able to know and understand each other better, China and the United States will be able to build a stronger and more promising relationship in the future.
I wish the National Chinese Language Conference a great success and further progress in Chinese language learning and teaching in the United States.
Thank you all very much.