Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong Visits University

Issue Date: 
July 6, 2015

The University of Pittsburgh hosted Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong, the highest-ranking woman in the Chinese government, on June 19. 

Vice Premier Liu visited Pittsburgh during a trip to the United States for the sixth U.S.-China High Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange. She said she selected Pittsburgh as her first U.S. stop because of the city’s transformation from a steel center to a hub of education, health care, and technology industries.   

Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher welcomed Vice Premier Liu and her delegation in his Cathedral of Learning office, where the group shared tea. The chancellor unveiled a plaque for the new Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute in China, an engineering institute that will accept its first freshman class this fall. Undergraduate students will be taught in English only and collaborative research will be conducted.

The next stop on Vice Premier Liu’s Pitt tour was the University’s Confucius Institute, which supports Chinese language education for more than 4,500 students—kindergarten through college—in 70 regional school districts in Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio. Launched at Pitt in 2007, the Posvar Hall-based institute is part of the Asian Studies Center and one of more than 400 Confucius Institutes worldwide. Vice Premier Liu briefly observed a Mandarin class in session and noted that Pitt’s three-time designation as the Confucius Institute of the Year is “very rare.”  

Later, in Alumni Hall, young Confucius Institute students from as far away as Berks County sang in Mandarin for Vice Premier Liu and her entourage, while others played the violin, recited poetry, and performed Masks for the Peking Opera. Several hundred observers watched, including Pitt faculty, students, and administrators, and more than a dozen members of the Chinese press corps.

The chancellor praised Madame Liu for “playing a central role in advancing understanding between the citizens of the United States and China.” 

The Chinese vice premier told those gathered that she planned to provide 10 scholarships for Pitt students to study in China; 50 spaces for Pitt Confucius Institute students and teachers to attend summer camp in China; and 1,000 books for Confucius Institute students.

Pitt’s distinguished guest wrapped up her day at the Starzl Biomedical Science Tower, where she viewed presentations by two Tsinghua University medical students who are training at Pitt to become China’s new generation of physician-scientists. At UPMC Presbyterian Hospital’s Neurological Surgery Outpatient Clinic, she learned how High Definition Fiber Tracking is used to plan surgical procedures. She told the group that she has a goal to build a “healthy China” and that her country’s cooperation with Pitt’s School of Medicine is necessary to do that.

“There are many areas where the two countries can cooperate,” she said, “and their contribution can be great.”