University President Richard Levin will return from a four-day trip to China today.
During the trip, he visited Yale-in-Peking students, met with Chinese government officials, made several television appearances and attended a conference at Fudan University in Shanghai. Levin also presented two books about China — published jointly by the Yale University Press and a Chinese publisher — to the country’s government in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
At Peking University in Beijing, which hosts the Yale-in-Peking program, Levin said, he had candid, confidential conversations with students about how to improve the program.
“They are enjoying the program very much, but they had excellent suggestions for improvement,” he said in an e-mail.
Yale-in-Peking director Charles Laughlin said the new program is a work in progress.
“We now organize our own local and regional excursions, rather than depend on PKU’s Foreign Students’ Office,” he said in an e-mail. “[Students] are also becoming more independent of the program thanks to gains in language proficiency and familiarity with the territory, and thus are also traveling independently and in small groups.”
Levin said his meetings with State Councilor Chen Zhili and Education Minister Zhou Ji resulted in preliminary discussions about an environmental protection and urban planning collaboration between the Chinese government and the University. The three also spoke about ongoing collaborations, including plans for 100 Yale students and faculty to visit China next spring. Levin said the details of this trip will be released in January.
During his several interviews with the Chinese press, Levin promoted the University and discussed higher education in general. He said the Chinese media were also particularly interested in the effect the new Democratic majority in both houses of Congress might have on U.S. relations with China. Levin said he and many Chinese share the worry that the government may enact protectionist trade policies against China.
“A trade war with China would be a disaster for the U.S., for China and for the world economy,” he said.
The last stop on the president’s trip was Fudan University, where he participated in a panel at a conference sponsored by the Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford. The panel discussed collaborations between American and Chinese universities as a model for relations between the two countries.
Levin’s daughter Rebecca, a senior at Stanford University, is president of FACES.