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US looks to revive China and HK Fulbright program

The United States House of Representatives is in the initial stages of passing a legislation which will reestablish Fulbright student exchanges to China and Hong Kong.

The China-Fulbright program was designed to increase mutual understanding between the participants from the US and China. Photo: Unsplash

The China-Fulbright program was designed to increase mutual understanding between the participants from the US and China

Reintroduction of the international exchange program will allow student and worker mobility to recommence between the countries following an executive order made by the Trump administration in July 2020 which put a halt to the program.

The House and Senate will now devise final competition legislation before potentially confirming the legislation.

Trump cited what he called China’s “oppressive actions” as the reason for the ban of the exchange program which in 2017, allowed 175 international participants for the China program and 19 for Hong Kong.

The decision was generally condemned by many in international education who thought that the move was further detrimental to students following on from what was already a challenging year due to teaching and travel restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fulbright supporters have taken to social media to champion the return of the program, such as Robert Kapp who is the former president of the US-China Business Council.

Rick Larson, a US representative and sponsor of the program, spoke on securing the provision to restore the exchanges in order to “build US expertise on China, strengthen people-to-people ties, and give Chinese participants a chance to experience the real US and the benefits of academic freedom”.

The flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the US government, and the China-Fulbright program was designed to increase mutual understanding between the participants from the US and China. It was first established by president Harry S. Truman in 1946 following World War II and has existed in Hong Kong for 17 years.

Speaking on the creation of the program last year, US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken said there was “an urgent need to create lasting conditions for peace, to build mutual understanding among nations, to foster goodwill among their people”.

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