China Announces Scholarships for Alaskan Students

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by Savannah Shih
A University of Alaska student explores Tiananmen Square during a semester abroad. [Photo: University of Alaska- Anchorage]

In February, Alaska Governor Bill Walker announced that 20 scholarships are now available for Alaskans interested in studying in China. The grants will cover tuition, accommodations, and a stipend. The scholarships will be available to students from all fields, including science, engineering, agriculture, medicine, law, economics, management, education, liberal arts, philosophy, history, and fine arts, and will expose Alaskans to new cultures and help them to gain life experience they otherwise might not have.

The scholarships are part of the Chinese Government Scholarship programs that help international students study at one of almost 280 universities across China. The announcement follows up on China’s plan to offer 100 scholarships in five years to allow Alaskans to study in China, a goal it stated in September 2017. The agreement is part of Chinese efforts to enhance its exchanges and cooperation with Alaska in a range of areas, including trade, investment, energy, fisheries, and tourism.

Meanwhile, Governor Walker stated his hope to maintain a “close relationship with China, our number one trade partner” and to foster “relationships through cultural exchange, mutual understanding, and learning opportunities.” Such sentiments build on the positive ties created by Xi Jinping’s 2017 visit to Alaska, where he met with Governor Walker. The two addressed topics such as collaboration in the mineral, oil, gas, fishery, and tourism industries, exchanges in winter sports, and the strengthening of people to people ties. In May, Governor Walker will also lead a trade and investment mission to China, aimed at Alaskan businesses looking to expand their markets and meet Chinese investors.

Indeed, the scholarships will build on the strong cultural and economic ties present between Alaska and China. In 2016, Alaska exported $1.2 billion worth of goods to China, including more than $625 million in seafood, making China the largest supporter of the Alaskan fishing industry. In addition to trade, the two countries have already established educational ties. The University of Alaska-Anchorage partnership with China’s Northeast Normal University allows Alaskan students to travel to China to study the Chinese economy and business.

Those interested in the scholarship can find more information here.

Savannah Shih is a research intern at the East-West Center and a graduate student of Asian Studies at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.