CHINA / National

Yale president urges against 'irrational' fears of China
Updated: 2006-04-20 08:48

Fears about a soaring trade deficit with China should not be used to justify US tariffs or other "irrational" restrictions on trade with the rapidly growing country, Yale's president said, just days before Chinese President Hu Jintao was to visit the Ivy League campus.

Richard Levin, who has fostered a tight-knit relationship between Yale and China, said Western investment and free trade will encourage China to improve its human rights record and allow more freedoms.

"China's very rapid emergence as an economic force has engendered a certain amount of irrational response in the United States," Levin, an economist, said in an interview.
He singled out a bill sponsored by US Sens. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, and Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, that would impose penalty tariffs of 27.5 percent on all Chinese goods coming into the country unless Beijing goes further in allowing its currency to rise in value against the dollar.

"It flies in the face of the last 50 years of the US being a major force in the liberalization of world trade," Levin said. "It would be a horrendous step backward."
Hu is scheduled to speak at Yale on Friday and Levin said he expects the speech will highlight what China has called its desire for a "peaceful development."

"China genuinely wants to be integrated into the world community," Levin said. "They've clearly demonstrated that in their openness to trade and investment. I think they would much prefer a course that doesn't put them at odds with the United States."

Yale's relationship with China dates to 1854, when Yung Wing became the first Chinese citizen to graduate from an American university. Yale now offers 26 study sites in China and collaborates with universities there on a number of scientific and social research projects.

"They have a serious interest in liberating their curriculum and a serious interest in changing their style of pedagogy so students feel more free to express their own views," Levin said. "They want their students to think more like we do because they think it will be important in driving the future of their economy."