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China can refer to a number of things. Geopolitically, there are now two entities, which refer to themselves as "China", mainly as a result of an unfinished civil war:

  • The Republic of China, nowadays commonly known as "Taiwan", is where the National Government of the Republic of China retreated following their defeat by the Communists in 1949. It's territory de facto comprises the island of Taiwan and several other small outlying islands, but de jure includes the mainland, Outer Mongolia, and other disputed areas.
  • The People's Republic of China, which is more closely synonymous with "China", is the name of the Communist government that won the civil war on the mainland. Its territories de facto include mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, but not the disputed mainland territories that the ROC claims. It de jure claims Taiwan, but has never exercised sovereignty or jurisdiction over the island.

China and Columbia

Columbia University and China go back a long way. While Columbia was not the first American universities to admit Chinese students (that was Yale), Columbia's ties with the Chinese intellectual community produced some rather prominent people. They included:

Columbia has a pretty wicked Chinese program. We also operate a permanent outpost in China, in the form of the Columbia Global Center in Peking.

CHiNA? has nothing to do with China.

Student Organizations

There are a number of student organizations which have to do with China. Note that the following list attempts to be as inclusive as possible -- it makes no judgments whatsoever as to what constitutes "China". In general, student organizations are split up in two categories: one, clubs for students from China studying overseas, mostly graduate students, and two, clubs for students of Chinese descent, mostly undergraduates.