China’s Harvard Connection

June 14, 2012 in Daily Bulletin

William J. Dobson explored the relationship between China and Harvard. Highlights include:

  • 10 years ago China’s ruling communist party decided to send promising officials abroad to hone their governance skills. Harvard was selected as their destination.
  • The program was successful and now sends promising Chinese officials to other institutions including Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge and the University of Tokyo among others.
  • The party’s Central Organization Department decides which of the Party’s officials get to go. It’s a secretive body whose number in the caller ID comes up as a string of 0s.
  • Harvard runs a variety of courses tailored specifically for these students. They include a course on the Shanghai municipal government.
  • Prominent Harvard alumni in China’s governance structure include the chairman of China’s first investment bank, the governor of Shaanxi province, the minister of commerce, and the head of the Central Organization Department – the body that decides who goes to Harvard.
  • This makes China different from other authoritarian countries. Libya’s Qaddafi or Zimbabwe’s Mugabe never sent their rising stars abroad to learn.

To read about the implications of this, what it’s like for these students, the ethical conundrum this creates, the notable faculty members who teach the courses, what this says about China, how this relates to Bo Xilai, and what China and Harvard have in common, click here.

Source: Slate