China and the United States are trading more than just goods.
There are more Chinese college students studying in the US than from any other country for the 2010-2011 academic year. China also remains one of the hottest destinations for American students studying abroad, ranking No 1 among Asian countries.
The Institute of International Education and the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs released their annual Open Doors report on Monday.
Chinese student enrollment in the US rose to 157,558, nearly 22 percent of the total international student population, making China the leading sending country for the second consecutive year, followed by India (103,895), South Korea (73,351) and Canada (27,546), according to the report.
China sent 23 percent more students to the US compared to the previous academic year.
The annual report also proves there is a strong surge of interest by American students to study in China during the past decade, with nearly 14,000 American students in China in 2009-2010 compared to fewer than 3,000 in 1999-2000.
"The continuous and increasing interest for students from the US and China to study in the two countries reflected an equal effort made by both governments to host students from each other's countries," said Peggy Blumenthal, senior counselor at the Institute of International Education, a non-profit organization.
"The trend of China hosting more and more American students is a reflection of China's rising power and its increasing economic impact," said Rajika Bhandari, vice-president of research and education at the Institute of International Education.
"Our earlier survey of employers showed that students with international study experience, especially in China, are more likely to get the job as there has been more and more economic cooperation with Asian countries, especially China, in recent years," Bhandari said.
J. Adam Ereli, principal deputy assistant secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, said political issues between the two countries should not affect the US' effort to host international students or send American students abroad.
"We've been making an effort in enlarging our global network, in boosting the number of counseling offices over the world, including in China," Ereli said.
The number of Chinese students going to America still remains 10 times that of Americans coming to study in China. Ereli, however, felt China had no reason to worry about its draw.
"On one hand, American campuses are very supportive, in terms of facilities and scholarships China, with its rising economic power, should not be worried about its attraction," Ereli said.
Ye Feng, a doctoral candidate at Shanghai International Studies University, is participating in a one-year exchange program at the University of Delaware.
Ye has a scholarship through the Fullbright Program for Foreign Students, which is backed by the US government and invites top students and scholars to study in the US.
"What impressed me the most about American education is that the professors are emphasizing your ability of independent thinking and creativity; teaching skills are more instructive," Ye said.
Ye, who has been teaching high school English for years in China, said that the teaching practices he was exposed to in the US would be useful to improve his own teaching methods.
Ling Minhua, who won a scholarship from Yale University to pursue a PhD in anthropology, speaks highly of his experience in the US.
"Without a scholarship, my parents and I would not be willing to risk such a huge investment," Ling said. "I have enjoyed my learning experience at Yale. I would have regretted it immensely if I had not come to the US."
Although he took many college courses in China, he never had the feeling of being challenged enough to improve his standards.
"That's something I find at Yale, which gives me a sense of empowerment and accomplishment as an independent individual," Ling said.
More than 40 percent of international students are studying business management or engineering in 2010-2011, which are the two most popular fields for Chinese students.
International students contributed more than US$21.2 billion to the US economy in 2010, which was $10.2 billion more than 10 years ago.