China will send 10,000 students funded by the government to study in France in the course of the next five years, as part of an initiative to continue deepening Sino-French ties, said Cen Jianjun, director of the Ministry of Education's international cooperation and exchange department, on Friday.
The program will be officially launched after the second meeting on China-France high-level cultural and people-to-people exchanges, to be held in Beijing on May 15.
The exchange program was established last year and has achieved much in cultural and people-to-people exchanges, Cen said. Particularly impressive is the increasing number of student exchanges, he added.
China has more than 40,000 students studying in France, while France has 10,000-plus students in China, ranking 10th in terms of China's international students.
Zhang Ning, deputy secretary-general of the China Scholarship Council, said that among the 40,000 Chinese students studying in France, only about 2,000 are government-funded.
"We hope to make use of the national support to foster a group of talent, especially talent on majors that are needed in China and where France excels, such as nuclear power and aerospace," Zhang said.
He said both countries have a good basis for receiving students from each other.
"In China, the number of people who study French has reached 100,000. More than 132 universities have set up a major in French," he said. "In France, the number of people who study Chinese has exceeded 50,000, making it the fifth most popular foreign language that people are interested in learning."
The countries have also set up a cooperative mechanism in vocational education for courses such as catering, hotel management and elderly care.
"We will also establish a 'Two Thousands' internship plan, which will allow 1,000 vocational school students of each country to study and work as interns at enterprises or companies," Cen added.