Senators introduce bill to teach Americans Chinese


From the website of Lamar Alexander, a Republican U.S. senator from Tennessee:
MAY 26 – With the United States at the threshold of a new era in foreign policy, with the People’s Republic of China emerging as a major economic and military superpower, U.S. Sens. Joe Lieberman and Lamar Alexander have introduced the United States-China Cultural Engagement Act as a step to improve relations between the two nations...

...The legislation authorizes $1.3 billion in federal funds over five years to provide for Chinese language instruction in American schools, increase American consular activity supporting American commercial activity in China and provide for physical and virtual exchanges among a broad spectrum of individuals in the two nations.

Amidst the shrill, populist squeals of US Treasury Secretary John Snow demanding that China revalue the yuan, and the unimaginative warnings emanating from the Pentagon that China is big and scary, this is good news.

It's especially good news because the Senate is likely to take this bill seriously:

The entire US government is pretty much controlled by Republicans right now. Alexander is a Republican from a southern state, and while Lieberman is a Democrat from Connecticut, he is the Republicans' favorite Democratic senator. If John Kerry had proposed such a bill, the Senate would have been filled with the sound of guffawing Southerners making jokes about liberal weenies from Boston and fifth columnist East Coast elites.

The bill did however cause some merriment at Danwei headquarters, for an entirely different reason: Each section of the proposed legislation is named after a famous Chinese person, perhaps because Chinese characters look cool when printed out on Senatorial letterheads.

If any reader can record audio footage of the American Senate debating the 'Du Fu Chinese Language Education Enhancement Act' or the 'Zhou Xinfang Artists Awareness Act', please send it to Danwei.

Below is a list of all the titles, together with a brief description of the people the titles are named after, as well as links to a press release from senators Alexander and Lieberman and to their home pages.

United States-China Cultural Engagement Act of 2005

Title I - Du Fu (杜甫) Chinese Language Education Enhancement Act
Influential Tang Dynasty poet

Title II – Wang Xizhi (王羲之) Public School Chinese Language Instruction Act
Jin Dynasty calligrapher

Title III- Zheng He (郑和) Chinese Language Instruction Act
Ming Dynasty maritime exporer who sailed as far as Africa; Zheng He was a Muslim eunuch who served who served Emperor Yongle

Title IV - Sun Yat-sen (孙中山) Postsecondary Exchange Act
Revolutionary leader and statesman, often called the "Father of Modern China" and admired on both sides of the Taiwan straits

Title V – Zhou Xinfang (周信芳) Artists Awareness Act
20th Century Peking Opera singer

Title VI - Cai Lun (蔡伦) Exchange Program Act
Han Dynasty eunuch who invented paper

Title VII – Ieoh Ming Pei (贝聿铭) Travel Enhancements Act
Guanzhou-born Chinese-American architect, considered one of the most successful architects of the 20th Century

Title VIII - Wang Wei (王维) Commercial Exchange Improvement Act
Tang Dynasty Poet

- Press release: Alexander, Lieberman Introduce Bill To Improve U.S. - China Relations
- Alexander's home page
- Lieberman's home page

The image is taken from Senator Alexander's home page. Thanks to Chris Barden and Sharline Chiang for the tip.

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