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Book Ceremony Precedes President Hu Jintao’s Address at Yale University


China President Hu Jintao and Yale University President Richard C. Levin participated in a Book Exchange Ceremony today, symbolizing both the 156-year old tradition of academic exchange between China and Yale and also the launch of a new era of library and scholarly collaboration between China and Yale.

The Book Exchange Ceremony preceded President Hu Jintao’s major address on the campus of Yale University, which the Chinese authorities indicated was the first speech by a Chinese head-of-state ever broadcast live back to China.

Yale presented President Hu with two gifts representing the University’s ties to China, which are the longest and deepest of any North American university: a portrait of, and a book from, Yung Wing, Yale College Class of 1854. Yung Wing was the first Chinese ever to come to the United States for college. He returned to China and ambitiously supported young Chinese to come to Yale and to other colleges for higher education. He later served as one of the first Chinese diplomats to the United States. In 1878, the year after Yale appointed the university’s first Professor of Chinese Language and Literature, Yung Wing gave his personal book collection of 1280 volumes to Yale for its East Asia Library, which has now grown to over 700,000 volumes and is considered one of the finest outside of China. The book given to President Hu is a typical compilation of Confucian teachings, representative of common volumes from Yung Wing’s lifetime and those held by Yale. It is a very special gift because it came to Yale from Yung Wing and symbolizes the academic exchange that he personally initiated. By presenting this symbolic volume to President Hu, Yale honors the international achievements and aspirations of Yale’s first graduate from China and the thousands of Chinese students and scholars who followed his example to study at Yale and outside of China.

In presenting the portrait and the book, Yale President Levin pointed to the current and emerging library collaborations between China and Yale, including a new program of librarian internships with the People’s Republic of China where the first two Librarian Fellows from Sun Yat-sen University are currently at the Yale University Library. He also applauded a new project for the organization and partial digitization of a special East Asia Library collection containing Chinese historical documents, under discussion as part of a broader effort to explore collaborative efforts in the digital arena.

As part of the Yale-China publication initiative, President Levin also presented President Hu with a collection of the six volumes published jointly during the last decade by the Yale University Press and the China International Publishing Group, which represents collaboration by scholars from China and around the world to publish works in both Chinese and English about major aspects of Chinese culture and civilization. The publications to date are devoted to Chinese Architecture, Sculpture, Society and Politics, Archaeology, Philosophy and Painting.

In recognition of Yale’s connections with China and as a symbol of the academic exchange that dates back more than a century and a half, President Hu presented Yale with 1346 volumes in both Chinese and English to benefit the University’s students and faculty. The gift from China includes titles in a range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, and together they comprise a comprehensive and systematic introduction to Chinese scholarship and learning. The Yale University Librarian for the Chinese Collection, Chi-wah Chan, in his initial perusal of the books said, “This gift will add important volumes to our East Asia Library, and I am particularly delighted by the many ways it will fill in gaps in our contemporary holdings.”


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