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Trade war must not be allowed to spill over into an education war

26 0 1
16.01.2019

As Washington and Beijing continue to spar over trade relations, education could ultimately bear the brunt. The sector that traditionally spurs progress could emerge as another stumbling block to China’s relations with the West – the trade war could lead to “education wars”.

Last December marked the 40th anniversary of China’s opening up; it had also been 41 years since all Chinese students were allowed to compete for a college place. Education has been at the forefront of national development since, and President Xi Jinping recently called on the sector to turn China into an educational powerhouse, and continue to drive the country’s modernisation.

The government is not alone in promoting education. The business sector is increasingly eyeing investments in education and philanthropy. In early December, Charles Chen Yidan, one of five co-founders of the China's biggest internet company, Tencent, held the second Yidan Prize Summit. With its endowment of HK$2.5 billion (US$320 million) and prize money of HK$30 million, the award is the world’s biggest for education research and development.

China has a massive student population of 37 million. One in every five college students in the world is in China. Beijing is taking measures to improve education at all levels, and envisions having at least 40 world-class universities by mid-century.

China also continues to send more students abroad than any other nation. In 2017, 608,400 Chinese students pursued advanced studies overseas, a 12 per cent increase year on year. According to Unesco, there are currently more than 860,000 Chinese students........

© South China Morning Post