The Yale campus prepared for a lockdown Thursday as Chinese officials, the media and the Secret Service descended upon New Haven in anticipation of today’s visit from Chinese President Hu Jintao.
The Chinese leader, who met with President George W. Bush ’68 at the White House yesterday, is scheduled to speak at Sprague Hall to a full house late this morning. On Thursday, central campus was abuzz with television news vans and Falun Gong demonstrators, as Yale staff and administrators prepared Woodbridge Hall and Sprague, the two sites Hu is scheduled to visit.
Yale President Richard Levin, who attended Thursday’s welcoming ceremony and a luncheon at the White House, said he expects his discussion with Hu to touch on the possibility of future partnerships between China and the University.
“I expect that we will be talking about a number of new possibilities,” Levin said.
Levin, who was seated at a table with Bush and Hu at the luncheon, said he did not discuss the content of today’s speech with the Chinese president.
On Thursday, the Yale Falun Gong Club staged a noon rally at Beinecke Plaza and handed a petition with 2,517 signatures to Nina Glickson, Levin’s assistant. The petition requested that Levin raise the issue of labor camps for Falun Gong practitioners when he speaks with Hu tomorrow. Today, members of the club will meditate and display banners and poster boards on the New Haven Green and Old Campus, Hao Wang ’07 said.
Hai Ying, a doctor from China now living in Boston who spoke to the group, said Hu’s visit presents an opportunity to discuss the status of Falun Gong practitioners in China.
“Yale, or whatever corporation has close ties to China, is fine because it’s another way to deliver the message about freedom,” Ying said. “It’s important for Yale to remember its commitment to human rights.”
Glickson said she left the petition for Levin’s review.
From approximately 11:30 p.m. to midnight on Thursday, six undergraduates, including members of the student groups Amnesty International and United Students Against Sweatshops, chalked statements including, “Free our Speech” and “No to China” on the sidewalk in front of Sprague Hall.
Edwin Everhart ’09 was questioned by University Police in their vehicle, but was subsequently released. Five of the students walked to Wall Street and continued to chalk. Thomas Frampton ’06 was also questioned in a University Police vehicle after writing “Teach Democracy,” in the middle of a barricaded area in front of Woodbridge Hall.
“I was told that if I chalked, ‘free speech,’ I would be arrested,” Frampton said.
Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said Hu’s address will be the first ever speech the Chinese president has given outside of his own nation that will be televised live. CCTV, Xinhua News Agency, Reuters Television and AP Television will broadcast the speech, and CNBC will serve as the network pool camera. About a dozen Japanese television stations and about half a dozen local stations as well as C-SPAN will broadcast the speech directly from the feed in Chinese and English, Klasky said.
Prior to his speech tomorrow, Hu will attend a reception in the Corporation Room of Woodbridge Hall, University Secretary Linda Lorimer said. U.S. Ambassador to China Clark Randt Jr. ’68, United Nations Undersecretary General Joseph Reed ’61 and Yale Corporation Senior Fellow Roland Betts ’68 are slated to attend the reception along with University officers and Chinese leaders. Afterwards, Hu and Levin are scheduled to exchange gifts across the hall in the Secretary’s Office.
— Staff Reporter Sarah Mishkin contributed to this report.