China a Growing Supplier of Drones

China recently said it considered launching a drone strike against a Burmese drug trafficker. Naw Kham was wanted in the killings of 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River in 2011. China's top drug official said the plan was to bomb the drug dealer's mountain hiding place in northeastern Burma using unmanned aircraft. The official said the drone strike idea was passed over in order to capture Naw Kham alive. He was seized last April in a joint operation with Laos.

That China considered using a drone strike is a sign of its increasing development of unmanned flight technology. It also suggests that China is seriously considering using drone attacks outside of its borders. Peter Dutton is with the United States Naval War College. He says China is moving away from its earlier policy of non-interference in international affairs. He says the country is becoming more active in protecting its interests beyond its borders.

The United States has led the world in drone technology for years. It is known to use UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicle, strikes against foreign targets. In recent years, China has greatly improved its UAV technology. It showed off many of its new models at recent air shows in the country. One of the drones has a range of over 3,200 kilometers.

China is also modernizing its global navigation system to compete with those of the United States, Russia and Europe. The United States exports unmanned aircraft to only a few of its closest allies. China is now seen as an increasingly reliable, lower cost supplier. Several countries have bought or built their own UAVs, mostly for surveillance purposes.

China Develops its Drone Industry

drone(n): [countable] an aircraft that does not have a pilot, but is operated by radio
(an aircraft without a pilot that is operated by remote control)

seize(v): [transitive] to suddenly catch someone and make sure they cannot get away
(take or capture by force)

surveillance(n): [uncountable] when the police, army, etc watch a person or place carefully because they may be connected with criminal activities
(close observation of a person or group (usually by the police))


Getting More Americans to Study in China

Last year, 200,000 Chinese students studied in the United States. That was a 23 percent increase over the previous year. The Institute of International Education in New York reports that 26,000 U.S. students were in China in 2011. They included 15,000 people studying for academic credit and 11,000 taking part in other educational activities. A program called the 100,000 Strong Initiative is trying to increase the number of Americans studying in China. The State Department launched the program in 2010. The goal is to send 100,000 students to China during a four-year period. Last year, the nonprofit 100,000 Strong Foundation was launched. Project Pengyou is one of the groups the foundation supports. It connects American students who have lived or studied in China. Project Pengyou is based in Beijing and led by Holly Chang. She says personal ties formed while studying abroad can have an effect on relations between the United States and China. She says there is still a huge amount of misunderstanding between the two countries.The Chinese government has offered 20,000 scholarships to Americans under what is known as the U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange. The 100,000 Strong Foundation has no official relationship with the Chinese government. But the foundation says it works closely with Chinese government officials to encourage more Americans to seek these Chinese scholarships. The goal is to give more Americans a chance to get a taste of Chinese culture.