Chinese Delegation Signals Intent to
Foster Long-Term Ties with UConn
By David Bauman
A document encouraging the exchange of faculty and graduate students in agricultural sciences was signed by a visiting delegation of government and academic leaders from China's Shandong Province and University of Connecticut officials last week.
The memorandum of agreement between UConn and the Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences commits both institutions to a five-year cooperative relationship, and was the culmination of a half-day visit to the Storrs campus by the high-level Chinese delegation Tuesday.
"One of our major goals is to provide our students a global experience," noted Chancellor John D. Petersen, during a signing ceremony following a luncheon for the foreign dignitaries. "One way is to bring visitors from other countries to study here or to serve on our faculty. Another way is to develop programs like this to foster longer-term academic and economic ties."
Of special interest to the Chinese is UConn's new agricultural biotechnology laboratory and the cloning research being conducted by animal science professor Xiangzhong (Jerry) Yang. Yang led the delegation on a tour through the Kellogg Dairy Center, home of the four cloned Holstein heifers produced by the University's Animal Transgenic Facility.
Xu Huisan, president of the Provincial Academy of Agricultural Sciences, voiced hope that Yang might soon host a graduate student from Shandong. Through an interpreter, he explained: "The Academy has the challenge of changing Shandong from traditional agriculture to modern agriculture as quickly as possible and building Shandong into a powerful agricultural province."
Located on the east coast of China, Shandong Province is that nation's third largest, with a population of 91 million. Connecticut has had a "sister state" relationship with Shandong that commenced in 1986, when former Gov. William O'Neill opened the doors to trade with China.
Connecticut's exports to China have grown dramatically in recent years. China ranked as Connecticut's 17th largest export market in 2001, with merchandise exports of $119.5 million; and the state's exports to China have since increased by 54 percent.
The 18-member delegation to Connecticut, led by Shandong Vice-Gov. Lin Tingshen, was hosted by Gov. John Rowland. The goal of the visit was to strengthen economic ties and to explore issues related to management training, scientific research, and commercial development ventures. During their two-day stay, the Chinese met with state political leaders, and visited Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford and Central Connecticut State University, as well as UConn.