Rachel Brown is a research associate in Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Amid the flurry of press coverage surrounding President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States in September, his gift of a dawn redwood tree to be planted on the campus of the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) program in Seattle received little attention. However, the GIX program, a collaboration between China’s prestigious Tsinghua University and the University of Washington, reflects a next step in China’s soft power strategy. Presenting a model for higher education has characterized global powers from nineteenth century Germany to the present day United States, and China now seems to be making a bid to promote its own educational model abroad. While over the past two decades, American and other foreign universities have flocked to establish campuses and centers in China, GIX will be the first outpost of a Chinese university in the United States.