Ordinary Americans and Chinese seem to be drifting apart

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DURING A STATE visit to Beijing in November 2017 President Donald Trump invited his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to watch a video of his young granddaughter, Arabella, singing and reciting poetry in Mandarin. The daughter of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner learned her language skills from a nanny and at a private school. Many parents think that having studied Chinese looks good on a college application alongside ballet or violin lessons, says Scott McGinnis, a professor of Chinese at the Defence Language Institute, speaking in a personal capacity.

A survey in 2017 by American Councils for International Education estimated that 227,000 school-age Americans regularly wrestle with Chinese tones and radicals. At roughly the same time 363,000 students from China were hosted by American colleges and schools. Those numbers make talk of a cold war seems outlandish. Beyond trade, people-to-people exchanges look like…

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