Mr.President, it is my pleasure to extend a warm welcome to you and Ms. Liu onbehalf of our entire community. We are deeply honored that you have chosen tovisit Yale.
Your country has an ancient tradition of reverence for education, and your actionsaffirm this tradition. During the past decade, you have made massive investments in your universities, strengthening the most excellent of those institutionswhile broadening access to higher education from less than 5% to more than 15% of your college-age population. Your nation's focus on education hascontributed substantially your historically unprecedented success in liftingmore than 200 million of your citizens out of poverty in the past quarter century. We admire these achievements, and, like most Americans, we are hopeful that thedevelopment of your economy will be accompanied by continued expansion of the rule of law and strengthening of the rights of individuals.
These past two summers, Yale has been privileged to host presidents and vicepresidents from 14 of your leading universities for an intensive two-dayseminar on the policies and practices of the world's most respected institutions. Our conversations have acknowledged deep differences on important questions of values and national policy. But we hold thecommon belief that only through education can one acquire the capacity to thinkcreatively and independently, and thus contribute to scientific and material progress as well as to the humanistic and artistic expression that enriches society. We also agree on the power of personal encounter todeepen mutual understanding among those who start from different traditions, norms, and values. Our experience mirrors that of thousands of US and Chinese scientists and scholars and tens of thousands of students whose interactions with one another can be afoundation for a lasting peace between our nations.
Yale is proud of its extensive collaborations with China. Scholars from our facultyof arts and sciences and faculty from nearly all of our professional schoolsare currently engaged in more than 80 research and educational collaborationswith Chinese counterparts. In addition to our seminar for university leaders weare currently involved in training programs for your environmental officials, mayors,senior executives of state enterprises, and senior governmental leaders. We arecollaborating with Fudan and Peking Universities on major scientific researchprograms, and with your alma mater Tsinghua University on both cultural andenvironmental projects. Our China Law Center, directed by Professor PaulGewirtz who helped to orchestrate the Rule of Law Initiative launched byPresident Jiang Zemin and President Bill Clinton, is deeply engaged with yourcourts, your law schools, your administrative agencies, and the NationalPeople's Congress —helping to advancelegal reform and the rule of law.
Our American students are eager to learn about China. They learn from study:Enrollment in our first-year Chinese language courses increased by more than 50% this year, and each time Professor Jonathan Spence offers hiscourse in Modern Chinese History over 300 students enroll. And our studentslearn from encounter: from getting to know the more than 600 Chinese students andscholars currently in residence here at Yale, who teach us even as they pursuetheir own studies.
We look forward to your address, Mr. President. By your presence today, you honorthe long association between Yale and China, and you honor the place of theuniversity in both Chinese and American society. We are deeply grateful, Mr.President.