Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to deliver an address at Yale around midday 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, Hu would arrive 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.
“In recent years, Yale has been the most active of all American universities in establishing student exchanges and research collaborations with China,” Levin said in an e-mail. “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 cable and on local cable, Lorimer said, and it will also be available as streaming video on the Internet. Classes will not be canceled, as they were scheduled to for Hu’s aborted visit last September, but those that meet on Friday morning in the center of campus will be moved to other locations, she said.
The party traveling with Hu will be larger than it was at the time of his previously scheduled trip, which was canceled in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but a block of tickets will be available for students and faculty to attend the speech, Lorimer said.
Discussions regarding safety and security precautions for the visit have begun with the FBI, the 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 law professor Paul Gewirtz, and sociology professor Deborah Davis.
Hu’s visit is likely an acknowledgement of the leading role Yale has taken in forming partnerships with China and a strong University focus on China, Gewirtz said.
“It’s reasonable to conclude that President Hu has chosen to speak at Yale instead of any other university in the United States because he recognizes the leadership role that Yale is now playing in building important new bridges to China and the central focus that China is now playing at Yale — in our teaching, our research, in our welcoming of students from China, and in the innovative programs that Yale has been developing involving China,” Gewirtz said in an e-mail.
Maria Farkas, a research fellow at the Hudson Institute, a public policy think tank, said 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.”
Hao Wang ’07 said Hu’s visit provides an opportunity for Yale to advance change on issues that are relevant to China’s future, such as freedom of information and human rights.
“It’s not only a reflection of how close our countries are, but also that Yale has a role in transforming part of China’s future, particularly in the area of free information and human rights,” Wang said. “I think that’s why this is such a good opportunity to bring the issues to the table and push for change.”
Hu’s visit to the United States comes at a “tricky time” in U.S.-China relations, Farkas said, because of 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 a 27.5 percent tariff on Chinese goods unless the Chinese yuan rose against the dollar. The vote on the legislation, originally scheduled for last Friday, 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 today, Lorimer said, and a University Web site will be created to provide updates.