College Essay Contest

The 1990 Institute believes that discovery through education paves the way for Americans to understand more about China, as well as for Chinese to understand more about the United States – thereby fostering a more thoughtful and rational view of the relations between the two countries. The 1990 Institute encourages university students to develop a more nuanced understanding of modern China and the implications of its rise as a superpower through an annual College Essay Contest. 

2020-2021 College Essay Contest


We’re proud to announce the 2020-2021 College Essay Contest winners! This contest was co-sponsored by the 1990 Institute, the 21st Century China Center at the University of California San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy, and the Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China. It was organized with China Focus, a publication of the 21st Century China Center. 


Each entry is the original work of an undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in an American or Chinese university. For 2020-2021, there were two topics and two prizes for each topic with $1,000 awarded for each winning essay.


The College Essay Contest winners are Shaun Ee and Theo Lebryk from the Yenching Academy of Peking University, William Yuen Yee from Columbia University, and Jimin Park from the University of Kansas.


The views expressed herein are those of the individual author, and they do not represent the official positions of organizing and sponsoring institutions, including China Focus, 21st Century China Center, Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China, and the 1990 Institute.


Essay Topic: 

Historically, the U.S. has benefited from global talent flows via its immigration system. In recent years, China has stepped up its effort to recruit talent via government-run talent programs. Recognizing the value of global talent for both countries, how would you propose for the U.S. or China to design a system of immigration or system of talent recruitment, respectively, that best meets its needs while preserving the mobility of global talent? What are the biggest obstacles to the adoption of such a system? Please be sure to use evidence to back up your arguments.


Congratulations to our essay winners for this topic:


Essay Topic: 

The United States has withdrawn from a number of international organizations in the last four years. During this same period, China has asserted a greater presence, and even leadership in international organizations. How will these trends affect China’s ability to shape international outcomes? To focus your discussion, emphasize one specific area in which you foresee China exercising significant influence through international organizations. How will the outcomes be beneficial or detrimental to the U.S.?


Congratulations to our essay winners for this topic:


Please see previous winning essays here.