Nov 29, 2016 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

ASEAN-China Center Secretary General Yang Xiuping recently announced that China would like to improve collaboration in education and culture with ASEAN countries.  He said, “Foreign students from Southeast Asian countries are the bridge and future of the relationship between ASEAN [countries] and China.”

Why the push? This push comes partly from the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.  The Chinese government recently initiated this development strategy and framework to both unite and expand collaborative efforts in education and trade between China and other countries on the Silk Road route.  Attracting more international students from Southeast Asia not only gives students an incredible learning opportunity; it also allows them to be a part of a new collaboration between China and the rest of the region.   

Currently, about 68,000 students from Southeast Asia study in China.  The Chinese government would like to increase that number to at least 100,000 within the year.  Yang commented, “We want to see more exchange students from ASEAN countries in China.” 

This initiative reflects a larger trend in Chinese higher education.  Last year was a record year for the numbers of international students in China.  Why?  China’s outward international strategy for 2020 focuses on making China a global study destination, not just in Southeast Asia.    Some of the countries with the largest numbers of students studying in China?  You guessed it: ASEAN members Thailand and Indonesia, among other global players. 

Learn more about studying in China


Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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