In November 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao agreed during talks in Beijing that the relationship between their two countries could be strengthened through enhanced people-to-people engagement and cultural exchanges. Out of those discussions came the U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, which aims to promotes ties between the two countries in education, culture, science and technology, sports, and women’s issues.
"Leaders are on the stage for a period of time, but the people endure. And the people’s relationships is what will give China-U.S. relationships a very strong foundation going into the future," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the second annual Consultation, held in Washington, DC in mid-April:
"We believe strongly that working for greater understanding, finding new ways not only of communicating, but of cooperating, is in the best interest of our nations and our people. We think the more our people learn to cooperate and collaborate, the more that China and the United States will be able to find solutions to many global challenges. We both face climate change issues, weather changes, food security, environmental problems, educational issues, healthcare challenges, and we want to work to make sure we know the best solutions that can be applied everywhere."
During the meeting, Secretary of State Clinton announced a broadening of the U.S.-China Fulbright Program for students and scholars and launched the U.S.-China Women’s Leadership Exchange and Dialogue, or Women-LEAD program. "We think it will help bring talented women together to tackle common problems and raise the visibility and opportunities of both women and girls," she said.
"We want to see robust, open exchanges, and to lay a firm foundation for cultural and educational understanding. We think that creating the environment in which people pursue their own dreams, hopes and aspirations will lead to not only greater understanding, but increasing cooperation and partnership between our two countries," said Secretary Clinton.
The U.S. government encourages study in China and, through the private-sector supported 100,000 Strong Initiative announced by President Obama in Shanghai in November 2009, hopes to see 100,000 Americans studying in China over four years.
Said Secretary Clinton, "The future is in these young people, and I’m very optimistic about that future."