There is no doubt that cooperation between the United States and China will play a crucial role in resolving some of the world’s most complicated issues, and shaping global and regional policies over the foreseeable future. It is therefore important that our people learn to work together.
But to work together effectively, we must each have a good understanding of how the other thinks and works. That is why, four years ago, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and China’s then-State Councilor Liu Yandong launched the U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange. The purpose of the initiative was—and still is—to enhance people-to-people exchanges between the citizens of the United States and China in the areas of education, culture, sports, women’s issues, and science and technology. This year, the two sides agreed to add a sixth area: health.
The goal at the time was to send 100,000 American students to China by 2014. Speaking at the Fifth Consultation on People-to-People Exchange Plenary Session, Secretary of State John Kerry said that today, we are meeting and exceeding that number:
“We are determined to ensure that young Americans develop a deep understanding of China. And this year I’m proud to say we are elevating our partnership even further by focusing on health, which is a global challenge that demands a global response. This will not be defined by numbers. It’s our people. It’s our students, our artists, our musicians, our athletes, our scientists coming together to lay the foundation for greater trust and eventually for greater leadership in the world. Our students right now are already laying the foundation for this transformation,” said Secretary of State Kerry.
“The story of U.S.-China relations really can be one of genuine cooperation, and frankly of spectacular accomplishment. And while we may disagree at times on one thing or another, I’m absolutely convinced that we can learn from the past and herald a brighter future together.
“If we build greater trust, if we reach for greater prosperity, if we lead together on the world stage, this consultation will be not the only one of its kind or the only partnership that our people share; it will simply be the first, and it will set an example for the possibilities of the future.”