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China, US Launch Undergraduate Summer Exchange Program

China and the United States will exchange 30 undergraduate students annually for three weeks of study, tour and cultural activities starting next year, according to China's Ministry of Education on Wednesday.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on the summer exchange program for undergraduates on Tuesday. It aimed at strengthening mutual trust and understanding between young people.

The memorandum was based on the "Agreement on Educational Exchange and Cooperation" renewed by the two governments in 2006 and a result of the US-China Education Dialogue held in April.

The program is also an important activity to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-American diplomatic ties, and the 30th anniversary of the implementation of the Chinese-American student exchanges and the launch of the Fulbright study program.

"What we do is to plant the seeds," said Goli Ameri, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs." Our goal is not to create volume, but to provide opportunities for people who are going to be future leaders. That's why we select the students very carefully."

"Once we've paved the way, we will get out of the way and let the private sector, such as universities, take over to increase the exchange volume."

According to data of the American-based Institute of International Education "Open Door 2007" initiative, China was number two in sending students to the United States in the 2006-2007 school year. China enrollments were up 8 percent to 67,723 in the period. This accounted for 11.6 percent of the total international enrollments in the country.

In addition, China was also the seventh most popular destination for US students to study abroad. In the 2005-2006 school year, 8,830 Americans were studying in the country, up 38 percent compared to 2004-2005.

(Xinhua News Agency September 17, 2008)

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