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Yang Guoqiang (Jeffrey), the new Consul General of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Chicago, visited the University of Minnesota in August 2010. Yang and four of his staff members met with China Center and Confucius Institute staff as well as Senior Vice President for System Academic Administration Robert Jones. This was the first visit to the University of Minnesota for Yang, who became the Consul General in May 2010 when his predecessor, Huang Ping, was promoted to overseeing the operation of Chinese consulates worldwide.
Because it is the base of the region’s diplomatic relations to China, the relationship with the Consulate General is extremely important to University. The Consulate General has been a strategic partner for the University in the past, including assisting with the establishment of the Confucius Institute, setting up academic exchanges, and designating a full academic-year scholarship to a Chinese university for a University of Minnesota student. The Consulate is also an important entity for students, scholars, and faculty travelling to or from China.
The University of Minnesota has one of the largest populations of Chinese students and scholars of any university in the U.S. Nearly a third of all international students at the University are from China. There are also a large number of students who travel from the University to China to study. One area of interest for Yang—and the largest topic of discussion in his meeting with Senior Vice President Jones—is reducing the “trade deficit” in education by increasing that number of students from the U.S. who travel to China for part or all of their studies. This is also a major goal of the China Center, who offers several scholarships for academic study and research in China to University of Minnesota students.
The visit to the University was part of a trip to greater Minnesota—one of the nine states in the consular district Yang oversees. He was hosted on campus by China Center director Yongwei Zhang who had extended the invitation for a visit at Yang’s official reception in Chicago in June. Yang expressed a desire to visit the University and its leadership with regularity in order to develop the relationship and work on academic initiatives. Referencing the number of times his predecessor met with Senior Vice President Jones, Yang said with a warm smile, “I would like to meet with you more than two times.”