Chinese president cancels Thursday visit

Chinese President Hu Jintao will not make his scheduled Thursday visit to Yale after postponing his trip to the United States this week as the U.S. government concentrates on providing disaster relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Yale still expects Hu to speak at the University at some point in the future, although the timing will likely depend on when the Chinese leader reschedules his planned state visit to the White House, Yale President Richard Levin said.

“We expect that President Hu will include Yale in his itinerary when the visit to the U.S. is rescheduled,” Levin said.

Yale officials had cancelled all classes from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday due to security concerns surrounding Hu’s visit, but Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said classes will now meet on Thursday.

“Our primary function is teaching and research, and there’s no good reason not to do that,” Salovey said. Yale Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith said the University was prepared to receive Hu and other Chinese government officials on Thursday and security measures for the visit were in place.

“We’re all ready for them whenever they come,” Highsmith said. “We’ll keep those [plans] in the files and dust them off when we know the visit is back on.”

Bush and Hu spoke by phone Saturday morning and decided to call off their meeting due to the federal government’s current focus on responding to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina across the Gulf Coast, according to a statement issued by the White House.

“Both Presidents agreed that, in the present circumstances, it was best not to have a meeting in Washington next week; and they agreed to reschedule the visit of President Hu to another mutually convenient time,” the statement read.

The statement said Bush and Hu would meet “on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly” this month, and that the two leaders hoped to schedule a state visit to the United States “at a time of mutual convenience.”

After the White House announced Bush’s Sept. 7 meeting with Hu had been postponed and the Reuters news agency reported that the Chinese president’s entire U.S. visit was canceled, Yale officials spent most of Saturday trying to confirm whether or not Hu would make his scheduled visit to Yale. The University did not receive official word of the postponement until around 7:30 Saturday night when Levin spoke with the Chinese ambassador to the United States.

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