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Chinese Premier Will Give Address at MIT

By Frank Dabek

Officials at the Chinese Embassy and in the MIT administration have confirmed that the Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Zhu Rongji, will make a speaking appearance at MIT next month.

Kathryn A. Willmore, vice president and secretary of the corporation, said that the premier will speak on April 14 in Kresge auditorium “on a topic relating to science, technology and education in a global society.” She called the appearance a “major event for MIT” and said that it is being classified as a “major address” by the Chinese government.

President Charles M. Vest said, “I am very pleased that Premier Zhu Rongji will visit MIT and share his thoughts about science, technology and education.” Vest contacted Zhu to invite him to speak at MIT in September following a 1995 meeting in Beijing.

Zhu, who will be visiting Washington next week, chose to appear at MIT because, according to Willmore, he “sees MIT playing a major role in the world” and because of connections between the Sloan School of Management and the Tsinghua University. Zhu is the dean of the school of management at Tsinghua which, along with Fudan University, operates several joint ventures with Sloan.

Vest said that MIT is an appropriate venue for a presentation by a world leader such as Zhu. “As a leading university, MIT has the opportunity and obligation to foster discussion of important issues about today’s global society,” he said.

He added that MIT has several connections to China including the MIT-CETI program which works to network Chinese schools and a major environmental study of coal combustion throughout that nation.

Zhu’s visit to the United States is aimed, in part, at helping China achieve its long-sought goal of joining the World Trade Organization, according to The Washington Post.

Tickets available via lottery

The event will be open to students and tickets will be distributed via a lottery. Details of the lottery will be available tomorrow’s issue of Tech Talk, according to Kenneth D. Campbell, director of the MIT News Office.

Campbell said that the News Office is “trying to make the maximum number of seats available” to students by attempting to “limit media access.” Campbell said that national and international press agencies are expected to cover the event but their presence in the auditorium will be limited to make more seating available to students. CNN will televise the speech which will also be carried by closed circuit television in several locations around campus, according to Willmore.

Students may not meet Zhu

When President Clinton spoke at last year’s commencement he met with several student leaders. It may not be possible for Zhu to meet with students on this visit, however, due to scheduling concerns.

Willmore said that planners were still trying to determine if such meetings would be possible but said that this visit was on a “tighter schedule” than President Clinton’s visit. Paul T. Oppold ’99, president of the Undergraduate Association, said that he had not been contacted to meet with the premier.

A small group of administrators and donors is scheduled to meet with Zhu, however.

The visit of China’s president, Jiang Zemin, to Harvard in November of 1997 was marked by numerous protests. Willmore said that she expected that this visit will also produce protests.