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A Harvard graduate student has been recently selected as one of a few American students to participate next year in the first official student exchange program between the People's Republic of China and the United States.
The Washington-based Committee for Scholarly Communication with the People's Republic of China (CSC) chose Thomas B. Gold, a Sociology tutor, and several other students to take courses at Chinese universities beginning in January. The Chinese government-must still approve the students and issue their visas.
Gold said Thursday the CSC chose seven graduate students and three independent researchers to participate in the first phase of the exchange, with 50 more participants to follow in the second phase next September.
The United States has completed its authorizations for the exchange, Halsey L. Beemer, professional associate with the exchange committee, said Thursday.
The CSC will submit the names to Chinese officials in one or two weeks, Beemer said, adding, "We expect a response very quickly.... We don't expect any problems.
The National Science Foundation and a corresponding agency in China negotiated the exchange agreement in October, with the U.S. government designating the CSC as its operating arm to administer the agreement, Bemer said.
Roy M. Hofheinz, director of the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research and professor of Government, said Thursday if the exchange is approved, the participants will enter China in mid- January, following briefings in Washington.
Hofheinz said the exchange was not a certainty. He said there was a risk that political troubles in China, as evidenced by recent wall poster campaigns in Peking, could cause the exchange to be delayed or canceled, especially if unrest spreads to the universities.
Hofheinz said the program is extremely important symbolically. In the past the Chinese had refused to conduct such exchanges until the diplomatic impass between the two nations is resolved, he said.
Dropping this requirement shows how highly the Chinese regard training and modernization, Hofheinz said.
Gold said applications for the program were available October 25, and due November 13. Gold said he was notified Tuesday his name was one of the seven being submitted to the Chinese.
The 30-year-old Gold majored in Chinese studies and English as an undergraduate at Oberlin College.
In 1970 he went to Taiwan, where he taught English for two years, before returning to Harvard in 1973, where he received an M.A. in East Asian studies.
Gold's interest in modern Chinese affairs was stimulated when he toured the U.S. as a translator with two delegations from the People's Republic in the summer of 1974, he said.
Gold said he would like to study either modern Chinese literature or social change in China in the period after the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949.
These areas are the subject of intense debate in China, Gold said, adding that it is unclear whether such courses would be available to the American students.
Gold said the CSC will provide money for transportation, living expenses, tuition, and a small allowance.
The CSC was organized by the National Academy of Science, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Social Science Research Council, Gold said.
The funding for the exchange program will come from the U.S. government, Beemer said.
The CSC, Gold said, is making an effort to send people who know the Chinese language. The exchange committee required a minimum of three years work in Chinese language, he said.
Most of the people he know from other countries who went to China spent most of their time there learning the language, Gold said.
Hofheinz said that Harvard's role in the exchange program had been to distribute information and applications to interested persons.
Some universities have bilateral exchange agreements with Chinese universities, Hofheinz said, distinct from the program Gold has applied to participate in because the universities involved provide funding and handle details.
The U.S. government role in those programs is restricted to issuing visas, he added
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