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Officials seeks to strengthen
ties with China
(March 22, 1999)

delegation of senior University of Connecticut administrators and faculty is moving to step up UConn's presence in China during a seven-day visit to that nation this week to explore possible alliances between UConn and one or more of eleven technology-based universities there.

President Philip E. Austin is leading a seven-member team including Robert Smith, vice provost for research and graduate education; Thomas Gutteridge, dean, School of Business Administration; and Ross Mackinnon, dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who are scheduled to hold separate meetings with Chinese education authorities at universities in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Nanjing, starting today.

Other members of the delegation include James Marsden, department head, Operations and Information Management; Shili Liu, laboratory director, Environmental Research Institute; Robert Carley, technology liason officer, Environmental Research Institute; and Xianghong "Jerry" Yang, head of the Transgenic Animal Facility.

Besides education officials, members of the the UConn team are scheduled to meet with Minister Wan Xue Yuan of the State Bureau for Foreign Experts, and Chinese government officials from the Ministry of Public Health and China's equivalent of the Environmemntal Protection Agency.

Driving the UConn initiative is an immense shortage of technological expertise in China, and, at UConn, an opportunity to help the state's multinational businesses train skilled workers and managers in China. Several of the university visits have been arranged by Connecticut-based United Technologies Corporation, which already has business operations in China.

UConn officials hope these meetings will lead to "one, maybe two really strong university relationships that would include tie-ins with Connecticut-based industries such as UTC, Pfizer, GE Capital, Xerox and Pitney Bowles," said Gutteridge who organized the trip.

"One of the biggest problems we face is developing sustainable relationships. Costs are a real issue," he added alluding to speculation about a possible devaluation of the Chinese currency, the yuan. Although Chinese authorities have long denied any devaluation in 1999, there remains concern over whether China can maintain acceptable levels of economic growth to sustain the country's currency, in light of the two-year old Asian economic crisis.

UConn, however, has a special advantage as it ventures to set up these partnerships, said Gutteridge -- established ties to Chinese government officials cultivated by School of Business alumn Paul W. Speltz, '70. Speltz is past president & CEO of ATC International, Inc., a company he founded after President Nixon's historic 1972 trip to China, to assist U.S. firms establish business operations in Asia. Speltz is now senior director of Asia Pacific operations of United Technologies Automotive Group and advisor to UT International Operations, based in Singapore.

Speltz will meet the UConn delegation in Beijing and travel with them in China.

Not all the members of the UConn delegation will visit all the universities. The team will split up with individual UConn officials visiting those schools appropriate for their areas of specialization, Gutteridge said.

The Chinese universities on the team's itinerary, and the area of interest for linkage are: Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Tsing Hua University, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Tiangin University, and Tongji University (high tech); Central University of Finance and Renmin University (business); Beijing University, Nankai University, Fudan University, and Nanjing University (liberal arts).

David Bauman