Chinese president to speak at Yale April 21

Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to deliver an address at Yale mid-day on Friday, April 21, although no official written confirmation has been received from Chinese officials regarding the visit, University officials said Sunday.

During the Yale visit, which would be part of the Chinese leader’s trip to the United States next month, President Hu would be on campus only to give a speech at Sprague Hall. Following his remarks, a panel of faculty scholars is scheduled to discuss the speech and contemporary China at Battell Chapel, University Secretary Linda Lorimer said.

Yale President Richard Levin said the visit demonstrates the value China places on its longstanding ties with Yale.

“President Hu’s decision to come to Yale affirms the value the Chinese place on their longstanding relationship with Yale,” Levin said in an e-mail. “In recent years, Yale has been the most active of all American universities in establishing student exchanges and research collaborations with China. Our efforts to assist China with legal reform and the strengthening of their universities have been greatly appreciated.”

The speech will be broadcast in real time on Yale and local cable, Lorimer said, and will also be available as streaming video on the Web. Classes will not be cancelled, but those that meet on Friday morning in the center of campus will be moved to alternative locations, she said.

The party traveling with President Hu will be larger than it was at the time of his previously scheduled trip in September, which was cancelled in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but a block of tickets will be available for students and faculty for attendance at the speech, Lorimer said.

Discussions regarding safety and security precautions for the visit have begun with the FBI, Secret Service, and state and city police, Lorimer said. Faculty members currently slated to participate in the faculty panel are Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh, China Law Center Director and Yale Law professor Paul Gewirtz, and sociology professor Deborah Davis.

Maria Farkas, a research fellow at the Hudson Institute, said President Hu will likely speak broadly on topics relevant to the United States and China rather than on issues related specifically to education.

“It’s definitely possible that he obviously has a message to give if he is choosing to speak at Yale, and so I think it’s more likely to be on broad issues of interest to both countries rather than narrow educational issues,” Farkas said. “Maybe he will call for further exchange for Chinese and American students.”

President Hu’s visit to the United States comes at a “tricky time” in U.S.-China relations, Farkas said, due to recent debates over economic issues. U.S. Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina visited China last week and proposed a bill that would impose 27.5 percent tariffs on Chinese goods unless the Chinese government-controlled yuan rose against the dollar. The vote on the legislation, originally scheduled for March 31, was postponed for up to six months, according to the Associated Press.

An announcement about the visit will likely be made to the Yale community tomorrow, Lorimer said, and a Web site will be created to provide updates.

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