Premier Zhu Rongji of People's Republic of China speaks to world at MIT Wednesday


CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 13 -- Premier Zhu Rongji of the People's Republic of China will speak to the world from MIT on Wednesday as he concludes a nine-day tour of the United States with a visit to the Boston area.

The speech, including a question and answer session with the MIT audience, is scheduled from 10:45 to 11:40 a.m. Science, technology and education are expected to be the topic. The event will be broadcast live by CNN on its national and international channels and will be webcast by Ziff-Davis TV. The MIT website will point to the webcast site on Wednesday.

The speech will be in Chinese, with simultaneous English translation carried to the audience via headsets at each of the 1,200 seats in MIT's Kresge Auditorium. Mr. Zhu rarely speaks from a text.

Premier Zhu has been both blunt and funny during exchanges with officials, news reporters and citizens during his six-city tour of Los Angeles, Washington, Denver, Chicago, New York and Boston. The New York Times wrote, "the 70-year-old premier, with his poker face and acute timing, can be funny, especially when no one in the audience expects him to be."

In Los Angeles, he told of trade concessions China had made in its as yet unsuccessful effort to be admitted to the World Trade Organization. One concession, lifting a ban on citrus fruit, was particularly important to California and to Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-California, who has known Zhu since the late 1980s when she was the mayor of San Francisco and he was the mayor of Shanghai. She has visited the Premier regularly and complained about the ban, which contributes slightly to the US trade deficit with China -- $57 billion last year.

"California," said Zhu, "has a woman who comes each year to China. Every time, she raises the same old issue about citrus fruit." Pausing a beat, he added, "Thank God, from now on she will never raise it again!"

Protesters about China's handling of human rights, Tibet and Taiwan trailed the premier at each stop. Dozens were arrested, some through negotiated settlements with local police.

Mr. Zhu referred to the reports that China had obtained military secrets from an alleged spy at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and said that the Chinese Army will consider stenciling on the side of its missiles the words, "Made in China, not in U.S.A."

In Washington, he participated in an extraordinary one hour 45 minute news conference with President Bill Clinton. In Denver, he announced lowering China's trade barriers to wheat and beef, important to farmers in Colorado and the region. He visited the Denver Broncos' training site outside Denver and "sidearmed a blistering pass into a group of television cameras."

In Chicago, the Hyatt Corporation gave Chinese agriculture a boost when it presented Premier Zhu with a 1,500 pound black Angus bull, genetically engineered to produce calves that make the highest grade of beef. Ignoring high winds that kept the rest of his delegation in a bus, the premier lobbied local farmers to call President Clinton to say how much farmers want China to join the WTO.

Former US Ambassador to China James Lilley told the Times, "He is selling himself as the intelligent, sophisticated Chou En-lai guy. He's post-Tiananmen Square, Shanghai not Beijing, economic reform, free market, MIT and science and all that. All very effective."

Attendance in the 1,200-seat Kresge Auditorium will be limited to the MIT community and invited guests, who will be provided headsets to hear the simultaneous English translation of Mr. Zhu.

He will be introduced by MIT President Charles M. Vest, who met Mr. Zhu in Beijing in 1995.

President Vest commented, "We see China -- and US relations with China -- as major issues for American society and for the world. We know that China will have an increasingly important world role in the creation of new scientific, technological and industrial activities. MIT faculty and students are involved in many projects in the PRC, ranging from working with high school students to establish Internet communication to a major environmental study of coal combustion throughout that nation," said Dr. Vest.

Mr. Zhu continues as the dean of the business school at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The MIT Sloan School of Management has a substantial educational initiative with Tsinghua, with Fudan University in Shanghai, and the Lingnan (University) College of Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, Southern China.

Mr. Zhu, an electrical engineer, has been a planner, a teacher, an engineer, an economist, mayor of Shanghai, governor of the central bank, as well as vice premier. He was named the fifth premier of the People's Republic of China in March, 1998.


Topics: Global, Special events and guest speakers

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