Student leaders get Chinese experience
By Li Xiang
Updated: 2008-06-02 08:09

For Chinese student Ye Mao, a vision of strengthening the bond between American and Chinese youths became a reality when the first US Ivy League student delegation arrived in Beijing last week for a 10-day trip to China.

The delegation is made up of about 30 student leaders from eight Ivy League universities.

On Friday, the American students held a dialogue with their Chinese peers on China-US relations in the context of globalization at Peking University.

For Ye, 30, head of the Ivy student leadership delegation and initiator of the Ivy-China program, the interaction between Chinese and US university student leaders is an important step in fostering prosperous relations between the two nations.

"I hope the dialogue will not only benefit future China-US relations, but, more importantly, have some positive impact on current bilateral relations" said Ye, who is a trustee of Cornell University and a PhD candidate in finance at the university.

At the penal discussion on Friday, students of both countries exchanged views on major issues concerning China-US relations, ranging from the Taiwan issue to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

They also held a discussion on media freedom and transparency, the idea of an open society, as well as the differences of the structure of student unions in Chinese and US universities.

Rebecca Taber, president of the Yale College Council and a fourth-year political science major, said she was particularly looking forward to the dialogue because it was the first time she had the chance to interact with Chinese student leaders.

"The most important thing is to build the relationship now, so that we can work together as we and our Chinese counterparts move to the leadership position in the future," said Taber, who hopes to pursue a career in the public sector after graduation.

The delegation also met with Chinese state leaders, including Vice-Chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee Lu Yongxiang, and was briefed on China's reform and capital market.

"It was excellent to meet the leaders of China and to learn about issues that we may only learn in the classroom," said Ryan Lavin, president of the Student Assembly of Cornell University and a third-year industrial and labor relations major.

"It is an understanding that we would have not had if we didn't come here."

Ye's initiative to arrange the Ivy delegation to visit China stemmed from a successful trip of a group of Cornell stduent journalists to China last December.

The student journalists ran a series of full-page special reports of China on the Cornell Daily Sun, the school newspaper, after they returned home. The reports received enthusiastic response on campus, and students and alumni raised the possibility of arranging US student leaders to visit China.

The first Ivy League student leadership delegation finally saw fruition, with sponsorship from the All-China Student Federation and the Ivy Council.

During the 10-day stay in China, the delegation will also travel to Shanghai, Hubei province and parts of rural China. They are scheduled to visit local universities, government agencies and enterprises.

Ye said he expects to work toward the goal of creating a regular exchange program for promising American and Chinese youngsters. The Ivy Council has already invited Chinese student leaders to attend the Ivy Leadership Summit at Brown University in November, he said.

(China Daily 06/02/2008 page6)