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Will.i.am backs pro-China study push

Grammy award-winning hip hop artist will.i.am will hold a concert in Beijing, December 17th, to build support for the US State Department’s 100,000 Strong initiative to promote study abroad in China.

Will.i.am and Hillary ClintonWill.i.am will perform in Beijing in December to encourage Americans to study China

600 times more Chinese study the English language than Americans study Mandarin

The Black Eyed Peas frontman will be joined by several other prominent Chinese and US artists including apl.de.ap, also of The Black Eyed Peas, and nine-time Grammy award winner John Legend. Martial arts star Jackie Chan, whose Charitable Foundation is supporting the event, may also make an appearance.

In July, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed Will.i.am as goodwill ambassador for 100,000 Strong, which aims to raise and diversify the relatively low number of Americans studying in China to 100,000 over the next four years.

After meeting Clinton, Will.i.am said, “Kids from underserved communities rarely have the opportunity to study and travel abroad, and we want to change that. We must make sure that American students have the cultural awareness and skills necessary to succeed in a global economy.”

The initiative, which was launched in May 2010 and has so far raised $7million in donations, faces a considerable challenge to meet the 100,000 mark by 2014. According to the IIE, the number of US students studying in China rose from 13,674 to just 13,910 in 2010 – a climb of 1.7%.

On the State Department’s own website, the US government stresses the political importance behind the initiative, given that ten times more Chinese students go to the USA for educational programmes than Americans who study in China, and 600 times more Chinese study the English language than Americans study Mandarin. “This imbalance in knowledge can undermine strategic trust between the two countries.”

The Chinese government strongly supports the initiative and has already committed 10,000 “Bridge Scholarships” for American students to study in China.

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