WASHINGTON - A pair of prominent US senators proposed legislation that would encourage Chinese and American citizens to learn each others' languages, in an effort to improve bilateral cultural and business ties.
"The rise of China comes with a whole set of challenges. But the ability to talk to and understand each other should not be among them," said Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman.
US Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) is seen here in this 2004 file photo. A pair of prominent US senators proposed legislation that would encourage Chinese and American citizens to learn each others' languages, in an effort to improve bilateral cultural and business ties. [AFP]
"Providing our children with the opportunity to understand the Chinese language and culture will help ensure they have a better chance of succeeding in the global economy," Lieberman said at a press event announcing the United States-China Cultural Engagement Act.
The legislation authorizes US$1.3 billion in federal funds over five years to provide for Chinese language instruction in US schools.
The bill also would increase American consular activity to support US businesses in China and would encourage Internet cultural exchanges between Chinese and US citizens.
Lieberman co-sponsored the bill with Republican Senator Lamar Alexander.
"There will be challenges in the United States relationship with China as it grows and we seek to maintain our position in the world and our standard of living," said Alexander.
"But it is my hope that the United States will spend some of our time and money getting to know China better, and that Chinese citizens will spend time getting to know us," he said.