UMN and China

The University of Minnesota has a long and deep history with China, starting in 1914 when the first Chinese students enrolled. Today, the UMN community includes more than 3,000 students and scholars from Greater China.

We have research and exchange partnerships with many of China's top universities, and in 2009 opened our first international office in Beijing. More than 5,000 of our alumni live in Greater China. University students are studying in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan in increasing numbers, while world-renowned university faculty members are working with Chinese researchers to address some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Historical Timeline

The UMN soccer team

First Chinese Students


The first three Chinese students enrolled at the University of Minnesota: Pan Wen Ping, Pan Wen Huen, and Kwong Yih Kum (Harding). They all played on the University soccer team and made significant contributions to the championship won during the 1914 season.

The Chinese Students' Club in 1915

Chinese Students' Club Founded


The Chinese Students’ Club at the University was founded. For more than four decades, the student organization created opportunities for students at the University to develop fellowship, especially among Chinese students.

Flyer for Ng Poon Chew

First Chinese National Speaks on Campus


Ng Poon Chew becomes the first known Chinese national to give a presentation on the University campus. Known as the “father of Chinese journalism on the West Coast,” Ng Poon Chew was an author, publisher, and advocated for Chinese American civil rights.

Ten Chinese students pose in suits on some steps

Agricultural Engineers Receive Training


Ten students sponsored by the Chinese government arrived at the University of Minnesota. After receiving master's degrees in agricultural engineering and completing a one-year farm internship, the students became the first generation of agricultural engineering scientists in the People’s Republic of China.

Pencil laying on page with Chinese writing

Chinese Language and Literature Program Established


University Professor Richard Mather established the Chinese language and literature program at the University of Minnesota.

Robert Poor visiting China

University Professor in Second U.S. Delegation to China


University Professor Robert J. Poor visited China and gave two lectures. This was the second U.S. delegation to China after U.S. President Nixon’s trip in 1972.

Wu Shaokui

First Chinese Delegation Visits University


An agricultural delegation led by University alumnus Wu Shaokui was the first Chinese delegation to visit the University, sponsored by the U.S. National Academy of Science’s Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People’s Republic of China.

The first delegation posing for a photo

First Delegation to China


The University sent its first delegation to China, led by Regent Wenda Moore, where four agreements were signed with Chinese universities. The delegation was received by Chinese Vice Prime Minister Fang Yi at the Great Hall of the People.

The study abroad participants outside a building in China

First Study Abroad Program


University students participated in the first study abroad program to China titled “Summer Intensive Chinese Language Institute” at Nankai University. The program had 37 total participants from the University and other U.S. universities.

University band

University Student Band Tours China


The University student band toured China as the first foreign band to the country after the Cultural Revolution.

Magrath delegation in 1981

First University Presidential Delegation to China


University President C. Peter Magrath led the first University presidential delegation to China, discussing collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The delegation also met with more than 100 alumni in Beijing and other cities.

University of Minnesota Alumni Association logo

Alumni Chapter Formed in Beijing


The first University of Minnesota Alumni Association chapter in China was formalized in Beijing.

China Executive MBA participants at graduation

China Executive MBA Program Begins


With official approval by the Chinese Ministry of Education and the Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council, the Carlson School of Management established its China Executive MBA (CHEMBA) program in Guangzhou, in collaboration with Sun Yat-Sen University Lingnan College.

Mingda program participants from Zhejiang Province

Mingda Institute for Leadership Program Established


The University’s China Center established the Mingda Institute for Leadership Training. The first trainees arrived from the Administrative Department of Zhejiang Province.

Participants at the forum

Bilateral Research Forum Held in Beijing


The first bilateral research forum between the University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences was held in Beijing. The forum allowed faculty and scientists to share ideas for scientific exchange, identify common interests for future collaborations and research, and strengthen ties between the two institutions.

The opening of the Beijing office

University Office Opens in Beijing


The University’s first international office was established in Beijing to promote alumni relations, support international admission, and facilitate partnership in China.

American Cultural Exchange Center

American Cultural Center Established


The University of Minnesota Crookston partnered with Zhejiang Economic and Trade Polytechnic to establish the American Cultural Center for Culture Exchange in Hangzhou, China.

Flagship Program students in the mountains of China

Chinese Flagship Program Established


The Chinese Flagship program was established at the University. The program combines language training with extensive studies of Chinese society and culture, as well as study abroad and internship experiences.

China Champions from 2019-20

China Champions Program Begins


The China Champions Program, established in 2014, fosters an exchange of culture, education, and sport. The University of Minnesota annually hosts a cohort of Chinese Olympic and world champion athletes and coaches.

Logo for the Considering China webinar series

Considering China Webinar Series Launches


The China Center launches the Considering China webinar series to explore important topics related to China's many facets and to encourage meaningful conversations and reflections.