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

By Damien Ma
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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.

This post originally appeared on James Fallows's blog.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/02/internship-at-a-chinese-bank-only-if-you-go-to-harvard-or-mit/71919/