As the United States and China continued trade talks this week, companies and industries in both countries, including the education sector, will be hoping for a sign
ificant breakthrough that can lift Sino-US relations from the current morass and end the tit-for-tat trade war that
has seriously affected exchanges of goods, technology and people between our nations.
For Sino-US joint-venture universities, such as Duke Kunshan University, in China’s eastern p
rovince of Jiangsu, the ramifications of a further ramp-up in tensions would be felt acutely.
Fortunately, the impact of the trade dispute on these educational joint ve
ntures has been minimal. But naturally there has been uncertainty surrounding the
issuance of work and student visas (although the Chinese government has been quick to make assurances), and p
arents have raised questions about the sustainability of such projects should relations sour further.
More than ever before, it is important to remember that joint-venture educational p
rojects highlight the importance and value of true mutually beneficial co
operation. Today, there is hardly a single major global problem for which the long-term solution does not depend on
close collaboration between the US and China, respectively the largest and second-largest economies in the world.
fulfill their ambition in scientific research. And with China becoming a key driving force in so ma
ny key technology sectors, such as big data and AI, life sciences, clean energy and quantum co
mputing, faculty members can quickly find themselves operating in a cutting-edge research environment, supported by
a larger budget and more-skilled support team than might be possible elsewhere.
This trend reflects steps by the Chinese government to make working in the country more attr
active to overseas academics, including the Thousand Talent Plan, which was initiated in 2008 an
d has already attracted more than 7,000 overseas Chinese and 300 to 500 foreign experts. While the FBI has raised so
me questions about the intentions of this program, it is clear that the vast majority of the participants are largely in
terested in nothing more than open, mutually beneficial, cross-border research collaboration.
At joint-venture universities, all full-time faculty members, irrespective of t
heir nationality, are eligible to apply for domestic Chinese funding to support thei
r research activities. With overall research and development expenditures in China growing at 15 to 20 percent a
nnually over the past few years, this represents a major point of attraction for foreign scholars and faculty members.