California and Tsinghua University Collaborate on Climate Change Research

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by Yeo-Ri Kim
The US-China Climate Change Institute will continue to deepen California’s ties with China. [Image: Tsinghua University official website]

California Governor Jerry Brown unveiled California’s new joint initiative with Tsinghua University on the last day of his visit to China. He announced that California will establish a US-China Climate Change Research Institute at Tsinghua University. The new Institute is expected to focus on climate change policies and strategies as well as on technological innovation. According to Tsinghua, the University of California signed a deal to launch the California-Beijing Clean Energy Fund with Tsinghua Holdings, which owns a subsidiary of Tsinghua University. With the fund and new institute, the government of California and Tsinghua University are ready to provide intellectual support for dealing with the challenge of global warming by connecting government leaders, researchers, scientists, and students in California and China.

In addition to this joint initiative with Tsinghua, California has previously conducted academic and technological exchanges with China. In 2014, the University of California, Berkeley, inked a partnership with Tsinghua University and the city of Shenzhen — a major city in Guangdong Province and a home for many global high-tech companies — to establish the Tsinghua-UC Berkeley Shenzhen institute for promoting research collaboration and graduate student education, especially in new energy technology, data science, and healthcare. Also, Laurence Berkeley National Laboratory, known as Berkeley Lab, partnered with University of California, Berkeley and Tsinghua University to build the Berkeley-Tsinghua Joint Research Center (BTJRC) in 2015. The BTJRC aims to conduct research and analysis on clean energy strategies for China.

According to the Institute of International Education, California was the top destination for international students in the United States, hosting nearly 150 thousand international students during the 2015/2016 academic year. Currently, over 4600 international students study at the University of Southern California — ranked second in hosting international students among US higher education institutions —  and Chinese students are a leading group of international students at USC. At UC Berkeley, 33.96% of international students who enrolled in the 2016 fall semester were from China. 

Governor Brown concluded his five day visit to China by saying, “China is a very important ally in the fight to combat climate change” in his remarks at Tsinghua University. California’s research cooperation with China will lead further collaboration in tackling the challenge of global climate change.

Yeo-Ri Kim is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a Master's candidate in Global Policy Studies at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas.