The Pac-12 Conference, Chinese Scholarship Council, and Federation University Sports China (FUSC), Beijing’s official organization for collegiate athletics, launched a “coaching education alliance” in September. Coaches at Arizona State University (ASU) and the University of Utah (the U) will provide three months of training to 200 Chinese coaches on techniques for a range of sports, including basketball, track & field, swimming, and cheerleading. This partnership is the latest effort by Pac-12 Global to facilitate US-China educational and athletic exchange. The partnership is also an accomplishment for sports diplomacy, which was a component of the US-China People-to-People Exchange program, established at the seventh annual US-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange in June 2016.
The Pac-12 Conference has promoted ties between its American teams and counterparts in China since it initiated Pac-12 Global in 2011. Last November, the University of Washington Huskies and University of Texas Longhorns played a men’s basketball game in Shanghai, China. That inaugural “Pac-12 China Game” was the first time any American college sports teams had ever hosted a regular season game in China. This November, the Stanford and Harvard men’s basketball teams will likewise start their seasons in Shanghai at a second “Pac-12 China Game.”
An overarching goal of the coaching alliance is to strengthen all forms of exchange between the American universities and their Chinese counterparts. ASU has ties with institutions in China like Sichuan University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Ministry of Science and Technology. In 2013, at least 33 institutions in China participated in ASU’s dual American and Chinese degree program. Meanwhile, about 1,800 Chinese students attend the U, comprising 40% of the school’s international student population. Administrators hope that this coaching program will not only heighten China’s interest in Utah, but also in all Pac-12 schools. In addition, chemical engineers at the U recently began joint research with North Dakota and two Chinese institutions, Huazhong University of Science and Technology and Southeastern University, on clean energy.
Kim Meihua Roy is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a student at Brigham Young University.
Chien-Chou “Antonio” Liao is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a recent graduate from American University School of International Service.