Vice Premier Liu Yandong Visits GW

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013, Vice Premier of China, Liu Yandong visited the George Washington Confucius Institute and met with GW President Steven Knapp. The visiting delegation included: the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, the Executive Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zhang Yesui, the Minister of Education, Yuan Guiren, and Madam Xu Lin, the Director-General of Hanban.

Vice Premier Liu first arrived at the GW Confucius Institute, located at 2147 F Street, and took a tour in the townhouse with President Knapp. She was welcomed by President Knapp, GW CI Managing Director Taoran Sun, GW CI Chinese Deputy Director Guo Qian, and two GW students majoring in Chinese, Megan Schippmann and Mark Schafer.

In the Confucius Institute, Vice Premier Liu visited classrooms and offices, equipped with the latest technology to conduct teaching and video conference. Vice Premier Liu and President Knapp had a brief meeting in the Confucius Institute. At the meeting, President Knapp first congratulated Vice Premier Liu and her leadership on the successful conclusion of the Third Plenum. Both sides agreed that US-China relations is among the most bilateral relationships of the 21st century. President Knapp also briefly introduced the GW Confucius Institute, the only one in Washington, DC, to Vice Premier Liu.

After the tour at GW CI, Vice Premier Liu went to the Colonial’s Club at the Smith Center to attend a brief welcoming ceremony. President Knapp of GW first gave the opening remarks, welcoming Vice Premier Liu Yandong and her delegation. He also introduced the initiatives that GW has taken to strengthen its ties with China, particularly in establishing several academic programs with Renmin University and Fudan University, both of which are top higher education institutions in China. President Knapp noted that GW has put China as one of its top priorities.

Andrew Chester, a GW alumnus majored in Chinese and Chemistry, went on the stage next and recited the poem “Say Goodbye to Cambridge Again”, written by famous Chinese poet Xu Zhimo, in fluent Chinese. The audience was amazed by his perfect Chinese pronunciation and his passionate performance. The host of the ceremony, Julian Panero, who also studied Chinese at GW, shared his experience of learning Chinese and spending time interacting with ordinary Chinese people while he was in China. Learning Chinese is not limited to college students; many children also have the opportunity to have contact with Chinese language and culture at a younger age. Children from the Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School, affiliated with University of Maryland Confucius Institute, performed a song and a short cross talk in Chinese for the audience. The audience, particularly Vice Premier Liu, was happy to see that young Americans are interested in learning Chinese.

After the performance, Vice Premier Liu Yandong addressed the audience. She first thanked all students for their impressive performance and applauded their fluency in Chinese. She shared with the audience that she has twin grandchildren, and she wishes they will be able to speak English as well as these American students in the future. She also reviewed the continuing cultural and educational exchange between China and the United States since the Reform and Opening Up in the 1970s. She noted that in the past 35 years, there have been 1.5 million Chinese students coming to the US to study. In the past three years, as part of the 100,000 Strong initiative proposed by President Obama, there have been 68,000 American students studying in China. At the same time, Confucius Institute has been expanding internationally. The United States has more Confucius Institute than any other countries, reaching the number of 98 Confucius Institute and more than 350 Confucius.

In the end, Vice Premier Liu Yandong and President Steven Knapp exchange gifts. As the Chair of the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, Vice Premier Liu Yandong, offered a donation of 1,000 books, 10 scholarships for students to study in China and 30 scholarships for faculty & students to attend the Chinese Language Bridge as a show of continued support for language education. President Knapp reciprocated by presenting Vice Premier Liu a personalized crystal Flame of Knowledge.

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