Chinese President Hu Jintao will speak at Yale Sept. 8, University officials confirmed Thursday morning.
The stop at Yale will be part of Hu’s first trip to the United States since taking office in March 2003. Yale President Richard Levin first invited the Chinese president to speak on campus during his trip to China in November of that year.
Levin said Hu will be addressing students and faculty during his visit in a series of events and discussion.
“It will add a new chapter to the long history of Yale’s links to China and provide our community with an important perspective on China today,” Levin said in a press release.
News of Hu’s visit to campus was reported earlier in the week by the Reuters news service and The Epoch Times, a newspaper based in New York that covers China extensively, but University officials said yesterday that such a visit had not yet been confirmed.
Yale’s ties to China date back to 1854, when the first Chinese student graduated from Yale College.
In more recent years, relations with China have become key to the University’s efforts to raise its global profile. Levin has traveled to China four times in the past four years and will visit the country again in late September, when he will facilitate research partnerships between the Yale School of Medicine and several Chinese medical schools.
“I think that education is a respected value in China, and even in a country ruled by the Communist Party, there is a great respect for educational institutions,” said Richard Bush and expert on U.S.-China relations at the Brookings Institution who added that he expects Hu’s visit to feature a major policy speech and meetings with students from China who are studying at the University.
A visit by Hu to Yale might prompt a response from campus activist groups who take issue with China’s track record on human rights, said Emily Jones ’06, who coordinates social justice activities for Dwight Hall.
“I think the overwhelming majority of activists at Yale support international dialogue and a sort of global conversation,” Jones said. “That having been said, there are obviously some humans rights concerns and labor concerns.”
A White House spokesperson said Hu will meet with U.S. President George W. Bush ’68 at the White House on Sept. 7.
The Epoch Times reported that in exchange for Hu’s visit, President Bush would receive an invitation to speak at Hu’s alma mater, Qinghua University, later this year. The White House has not announced any such plans.