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Duke alumni visit Chinese Embassy

By Dong Leshuo in Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2016-04-12 11:16

 Duke alumni visit Chinese Embassy

Michael Schoenfeld (left), vice-president for Public Affairs and Government Relations at Duke University; Wu Xi (center), minister at the Chinese Embassy; and Patrick Duddy, former US Ambassador to Venezuela; pose for a photo at the China Salon in the Chinese Embassy in Washington on Monday. Dong Leshuo / China Daily

More than 200 Duke alumni were welcomed to the Chinese Embassy in Washington on Monday for a China Salon, co-sponsored by the embassy and university.

"Duke University has a very long history and traditional of working with China," said Michael Schoenfeld, vice-president for public affairs and government relations at Duke University.

"We believe that as a university, having a connection to and relationship with China is absolutely central for the education of our students, current and future," Schoenfeld said.

Among Duke's current student body, 15 percent are Chinese nationals, according to Arielle Grill, chair of the Duke DC alumni chapter.

Duke Kunshan University, established in Kunshan, East China's Zhejiang province, in 2013, is a partnership between Duke and Wuhan universities.

During a panel discussion, minister Zhou Jingxing and consulars Li Bin and Zheng Zhenhua of the Chinese Embassy shared their views on China's economic issues, foreign policy and US-China relations.

"The panel presentations were just outstanding," Anna Gunnarsson Pfeiffer, vice-chairman of Duke DC, an alumni organization that worked with the Chinese Embassy to organize the event.

"Everyone here is thrilled. We could have sold the event out twice," Pfeiffer said.

"They were more open than I thought they would be," said David G. Houck, a Duke alumnus who is also managing director of a real estate company that has 20 offices in China. "It's just another reminder that there are cultural differences between our countries."

In recent years, the Chinese Embassy has hosted public events receiving American guests from different sectors. Thousands of Americans visit the embassy each year, according to Wu.

"I believe such open, candid and productive conversation will help enhance mutual understanding and trust among us," said Wu Xi, minister at the Chinese Embassy.

"We need to maintain dialogue," Houck said.

Houck said he is "very proud of Duke's ambitious investment into China". "I think it shows that Duke is engaging with the world," Houck said.

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