Chinese leader encourages exchanges

More than 100 people attended the lecture at the Carlson School of Management; audience questions ranged from economics to human rights.

by Elizabeth Dunbar

A high-ranking member of the National People’s Congress of China visited the University on Wednesday, urging continued U.S.-Chinese academic and economic relations.

Jiang Zhenghua, the National People’s Congress of China’s vice-chairman and deputy speaker, visited the University for the second time in two years. Jiang’s academic work with the Minnesota Population Center helped the University’s China Center bring him to the University for the lecture.

In addition to complimenting the current exchanges between the United States and China, Jiang said China’s entrance into the global economy will require more cooperation between the two countries.

“I am confident that the new leadership in China will help continue economic growth,” Jiang said.

“Both (former president Jiang Zemin and the new president Hu Jintao) have been to the United States and have a good relationship with presidents of the United States,” he said.

As a World Trade Organization member, Jiang said, China has opened most of its markets. The result has been an upward trend in gross domestic product and other important economic indicators.

“Globalization is something everyone faces, whether you like it or not,” Jiang said, adding that there have been some social costs to opening the economy.

University political science lecturer Orin Kirshner joined Jiang and College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University professor Richard Bohr in a panel after Jiang’s lecture to discuss globalization’s impact on China.

“A very important shift is

underway in China in terms of the market,” Kirshner said. “The Chinese government has pushed very hard on developing the markets. It’s increasingly clear Ö that a push toward the markets will have consequences that are not all positive.”

Kirshner said the Chinese government needs to focus on developing some kind of welfare program to support some of globalization’s negative aspects in addition to pushing for economic development.

Bohr said U.S. universities can play a role in China’s development.

“My hope is that Minnesota can be a partner in working through some of these issues,” he said.

Both Jiang and Bohr said increasing the number of exchanges between Chinese and American students is one way to benefit both countries.

“My hope is to enhance this investment of human capital Ö to help China in its next step of development,” Bohr said.

Jiang said academic relationships will continue to play an important role in fostering understanding between the countries.

“Through sincere academic discussions, we will know each other better,” he said.

More than 100 people attended the lecture at the Carlson School of Management.

Most of the audience-generated questions concerned China’s economic development, but a few audience members asked Jiang about China’s human rights violations, especially regarding Tibet.

“I’ve visited Tibet twice. Everywhere I visited, I talked to the common people,” Jiang said. “We respect their beliefs.”

Elizabeth Dunbar covers international affairs and welcomes comments at

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