China’s Hu may visit campus

Chinese President Hu Jintao will likely visit Yale as part of his trip to the United States next month, University officials announced Wednesday.

Although the University has not received official confirmation for Hu’s visit to Yale, there is a high probability that Hu will come to the Elm City in late April, University Secretary Linda Lorimer said. If Hu does visit campus, he will speak in Sprague Hall, but the University will not cancel classes, Lorimer said. Hu was originally scheduled to speak at Yale on Sept. 8, but the visit was cancelled in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“We haven’t received official notification, but we do think that there is a very good chance that President Hu might come to campus as part of his U.S. trip,” Lorimer said. “We are hopeful and starting to focus on planning in the event that this is confirmed.”

Hu is currently scheduled to meet with President George W. Bush ’68 at the White House on April 20 to discuss “regional and international issues, including the war on terror, nonproliferation, and advancing freedom and promoting prosperity in Asia and beyond,” according to a White House press release.

Classes normally held near the speech location would be relocated in order to minimize interruptions to classes, Lorimer said. Hu’s potential visit, like that of any high government official, would be preceded by the work of advance security teams around New Haven and New York for seven to 10 days prior to the event, she said.

Yale President Richard Levin, who has made strengthening the University’s relations with China a top priority, said he and other officials have been in contact with Chinese representatives and he remains hopeful that Hu will visit campus.

Lorimer said the University planned extensively for Hu’s previously scheduled visit and will revise the existing plans for any upcoming visit.

“We did a lot of planning last August when we thought that President Hu would come as part of his trip in the early fall,” Lorimer said. “We are dusting off those plans and seeing what are the areas where we need to amend the plans or revise the plans which were not finalized last summer.”

Hao Wang ’07, a former political chair for the Chinese American Students Association, said the visit should prompt reflection of Yale’s values given current concerns about reported Chinese concentration camps for practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement outlawed by China’s communist government.

“I think Yale has to be mindful first of its motive, lux and veritas,” Wang said. “When genocide is happening in a part of China, we should first demand that there is transparency. If Hu Jintao is sincere about improving human rights, he would start by opening up the camps to on-site visits.”

CASA President Aaron Meng ’08 said that although his organization does not take political stances on particular issues, he thinks a visit would increase campus awareness about China and that the group’s members will be interested in attending the talks.

Hu is expected to arrive in Seattle on April 18, where he may visit Microsoft and Boeing, and depart for Washington, D.C. the next day, according to the London-based news service AFX News Limited.

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