Essay Contest featured photo3

The 2021 China Focus Essay Contest deadline has already passed. Stay tuned for the 2022 essay contest, which will be launched in late fall! The 2021 China Focus 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. Congratulations to our four contest winners! Interested in reading their essays? Check out our social media to follow along in our winning article series.

This year’s contest was organized by China Focus and was jointly hosted by the 21st Century China Center, Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China, and the 1990 Institute.

For this year, we offered two topics, and awarded two prizes for each topic, one top entry from a Chinese college or university and the other from an American college or university.

Award winners will need to grant China Focus and co-sponsors the right to publish their essays on their respective platforms or in their publications. They will also be invited to participate in a panel discussion about the two topics. (Chinese announcement)

2021 ESSAY TOPICS (Choose only one):

The United States has withdrawn from a number of international organizations in the last four years.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.?

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.


Each entry must be the original work of a student enrolled in any US or Chinese university for the 2020-21 academic year. Students who graduated in 2020 are also eligible. Collaborative projects are encouraged, but prize money must be split among the collaborators. The contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students only. Entries can be in either English or Chinese, but English submissions will be preferred. 

Each entry will be reviewed by a panel of judges drawn from the China Focus board of advisers including Professors Lei Guang and Victor Shih. 

Essays should be written in op-ed style (not academic, footnoted papers) with a length of 1,000-2,000 words.

Essay Contest Archive

CONTEST DEADLINE: February 21st, 2021, 11:59 PM PST

CONTEST PRIZE: Four $1,000 prizes


  1. Send your submission to us by email ( with the subject heading: “CFContest-LastName
  2. Send from your university email address.
  3. Send your essay attached as a PDF.
  4. Please include the full name, school affiliation at the end of the essay in the following format:

[Full Name, Chinese Name (optional)] [University] [Degree Pursued, Year]; [Nationality/Country Name]  

Questions? Contact us at

Start typing and press Enter to search