Posted on May 26, 2005
WASHINGTON – With the United States at the threshold of a new era in foreign policy, with the People’s Republic of China emerging as a major economic and military superpower, U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) have introduced the United States-China Cultural Engagement Act as a step to improve relations between the two nations. “Senator Alexander and I are convinced that this investment will have big payoffs by smoothing the exchange of commerce and culture between our great nations and reducing misunderstandings into the future,” Lieberman said. “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. Providing our children with the opportunity to understand the Chinese language and culture will help ensure they have a better chance of succeeding in the global economy.” "There will be challenges in the United States’ relationship with China as it grows and we seek to maintain our position in the world and our standard of living," said Alexander during a news conference on Capitol Hill. "But 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 us. History has shown that the modest dollars we’ve spent on education programs have done far more good than hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid. We can argue, we can send diplomats, we can build up our defenses, we can assert our position, we can spend money on foreign aid, but we all know there’s only one thing that’s worked best and that is when we get to know each other better. I appreciate Senator Lieberman’s leadership and am delighted to join him in this important and far-seeing undertaking." The legislation authorizes $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 and Alexander were joined for the bill introduction by Chinese language students from local schools. A bill summary is below. United States-China Cultural Engagement Act of 2005 Title I - Du Fu (??) Chinese Language Education Enhancement Act. Authorizes the Secretary of Education to award grants to establish a new Foreign Language Service Center, 10 new National Resource Centers, and awards grants for assistance to elementary and secondary education. Title II – Wang Xizhi (???) Public School Chinese Language Instruction Improvement Act. Authorizes the Secretary of Education to administer a grant program for state education agencies and/or local school districts that teach Chinese language and culture and sets up grant program for schools to purchase technology for virtual exchanges. Title III- Zheng He (??) Chinese Language Instruction Act. Authorizes the Secretary of Education to provide grants on a competitive basis to schools that initiate course offering in Chinese language and culture studies that include virtual and/or physical exchanges with Chinese students Title IV - Sun Yat-sen (???) Postsecondary Exchange Act. Authorizes the Secretary of Education to initiate and sustain a U.S.–China International Consortia Exchange Program similar in structure to the Brazilian, European, and North American Consortia Programs and increase number of postsecondary education International Business Education Centers. Title V – Zhou Xinfang (???) Artists Awareness Act. Authorizes the Secretary of State through the CultureConnect program to promulgate regulations and administer a grant program to individuals and organizations to travel to China to study Chinese culture and /or to perform for entertainment purposes. Title VI - Cai Lun (??) Exchange Program Act. Sets up parameters for secondary school physical and virtual exchanges as well as authorizes expansion of opportunities to study in China under Fulbright Scholarships. Authorizes the Secretary of State to promulgate regulations to initiate a grant program for nongovernmental organizations that facilitate student exchanges. Title VII – Ieoh Ming Pei (???) Travel Enhancements Act. Authorizes the Secretary of State to construct two more consular offices in China as well as sets forth provisions to make it easier for Chinese nationals to receive information on U.S. visas. Authorizes the creation of the J-4 visa classification for Chinese secondary school exchange participants and a feasibility study on an expedited visa approval process for Chinese scientists. Title VIII - Wang Wei (??) Commercial Exchange Improvement Act. Authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to hire more Foreign Commercial Service Officers in China as well as administer grants to states for the purpose of establishing state export centers in China. Gives the SBA’s Office of International Trade the authority to fund the hiring of an additional international trade expert at each of its lead Small Business Development Centers. Title IX - Authorizes the creation of a United States-China Engagement Strategy Council and requires the council to formulate a strategy for coordination and implementation of the grants and programs authorized in this Act.