Obama should visit China soon, former ambassador tells Gettysburg students

"China and the United States are facing common hurdles best overcome by working together," a former ambassador told students at Gettysburg College.

"If President Obama wishes to see how infrastructure investment can stimulate the economy, China can show him -- and I'd suggest he go sooner rather than later," said Julia Chang Bloch, noting that China's economy has grown 30-fold in 30 years.

"How the U.S. chooses to deal with China will make a world of difference," said Bloch, president of the U.S.-China Education Trust.

But she warned that mutual misunderstanding and mistrust threaten the collaboration necessary to the prosperity and security of both nations.

"I'm concerned we need more people to explain the two countries to each other," said Bloch, expressing concern because the number of American college students studying in China is a small fraction of the 81,000-plus Chinese enrolled in American colleges and universities.

"Educational exchange is crucial to improved relations," with China and other Asian nations, said Bloch, who was appointed ambassador to Nepal in 1989, becoming the first Asian-American to serve as an ambassador. She was born in China and came to the U.S. at age 9.

Bloch urged Americans to learn lessons from China's education system. Focusing on science, math, and foreign languages has greatly increased China's competitiveness, she said, and Chinese students achieve more because teachers and intellectual accomplishment are highly respected. By contrast, she said, "America is a sports and leisure country. Maybe we need a Super Bowl for academics."

Bloch addressed a Common Hour luncheon audience Jan. 28 as part of the Gettysburg College International Club's Asian Cultural Week. Her talk was also sponsored by the College's Eisenhower Institute, a center for leadership and public policy based on campus and nearby Washington, D.C.

Bloch founded the U.S.-China Education Trust, a program of the F.Y. Chang Foundation, in 1998. It supports American studies programs at China's leading academic and policy institutions and an array of activities in both nations.

Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences. With a student body of approximately 2,500, it is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. The college was founded in 1832.

Contact: Jim Hale, online content editor

 

Posted: Mon, 2 Feb 2009

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