Internship at a Chinese Bank? Only If You Go to Harvard or MIT

By Damien Ma


Just a short post to wrap up my week of guest blogging, which, now that I think about it, comes full circle to the broad theme of  "soft power" with which I began this week (and one of Jim's favorite issues as well). It is just a fascinating topic to which I will return again, among many other things, over at my regular Atlantic blog spot

First, US higher education is still the best, especially if you want an internship in China. So says the China Development Bank, whose summer internship recruitment page defines the scope of education pedigree as limited to ONLY Harvard and MIT. Sorry Yale and Princeton, or Beijing University and Tsinghua, the CDB thinks you're not internship material for a Chinese state-owned policy bank. To be fair, the CDB is supposedly one of the best-run banks in China under the helm of the princeling Chen Yuan (he is the son of Chen Yun, one of the "eight immortals" in Chinese politics who fought alongside Mao Zedong). According to the FT, the CDB lent more money in the last few years to developing countries than the World Bank. The political implications of the CDB vs. the WB is an entirely different topic that deserves some thought in the future.

So a Chinese state policy bank is actively recruiting from elite American institutions, while passing on China's own elite institutions. No wonder presidential heir apparent Xi Jinping is also sending his daughter to Harvard. And another political star and princeling Bo Xilai, party secretary of Chongqing, has sent his son Bo Guagua to study at Oxford. The message from the future president of China seems to be a vote of no confidence in China's own higher education. If you were a Chinese parent with college-aged children, how are you to interpret these messages from your leaders? 

I'll end with an issue I've raised before about the natural contrast between US presidents and Chinese presidents based on optics and imagery alone. At the time, I wrote this:
Netizens made an enormous deal out of the fact that Obama exited Air Force One on a rainy night with no entourage and no one holding an umbrella over him. This led to mockery that had it been even a mid-level Chinese official, he would've had a dozen people hold umbrellas for him [which implies "look at how unpretentious and equal America is...even their president travels solo in the rain!].
Well, this is what I mean: 



As you can see, the Chinese blogosphere has juxtaposed yet another photo of some unknown Chinese official against Obama shaking hands with supporters in the rain. Like I said, Obama doesn't even have to try to project "soft power". 

By the way, both of these items are courtesy of the Ministry of Tofu, a new Chinese blog in English that I've mentioned before

With that, I'm officially signing off my week-long guest appearance. And thank you Jim for the opportunity. It has been great and enlightening to have been in the company of such a diverse and interesting range of people, features, and views.

Damien Ma is a China analyst at Eurasia Group.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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