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Chinese leaders slam US but want American education for children

world Updated: May 20, 2012 00:26 IST
Washington Post

When scholars gathered at Harvard last month to discuss the political tumult convulsing China's ruling Communist Party, a demure female undergraduate with a direct stake in the outcome was listening intently from the top row of the lecture hall. She was the daughter of Xi Jinping, China's vice president and heir apparent for the party's top job.

Xi's daughter, Xi Mingze, enrolled at Harvard University in 2010, under what people who know her there say was a fake name, joining a long line of Chinese "princelings," as the offspring of senior party officials are known, who have come to the United States to study.

In some ways, the rush to U.S. campuses by the party's "red nobility" reflects China's infatuation with US education.

China has more students at US colleges than in any other foreign country. They numbered 157,558 in 2010-11, according to data compiled by the Institute of International Education - up fourfold in 15 years.

But the kin of senior party officials are a special case: They rarely attend state schools but congregate instead at top-tier - and very expensive - private colleges, a stark rejection of the egalitarian ideals that brought the Communist Party to power in 1949.

Of the nine members of the Politburo Standing Committee, steeped in anti-American rhetoric, at least five have children or grandchildren who have studied or are studying in the US.

In an exclusive partnership with The Washington Post.