Liu stresses universities' role in cultural exchange with US

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Universities should act as a bridge in people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and the United States, visiting Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong said on Monday.

Addressing a meeting of 22 Chinese and U.S. university presidents, Liu urged both China and the United States to create conditions for universities in the two countries to institutionalize communication and open channels for exchanges in an all-around way.

Universities should also work as think tanks for building the new model of major-country relationship between China and the United States, she said.

Liu added that while China and the United States are increasingly becoming a community of common interests where each has a stake in the other's success, a good China-U.S. relationship will benefit not only the two peoples, but also the whole world.

She called on universities to facilitate a joint response to global issues such as climate change, environmental protection, food security, and prevention and treatment of diseases, saying universities have an irreplaceable role to play and compelling obligations in addressing the common challenges.

If more than 7,000 universities and their 50 million students in China and the United States work together, great potential for their exchanges would be released, Liu said.

China has established the largest higher education system in the world, she said. There are now 2,790 universities and colleges in the country, and their gross enrollment rate has reached 30 percent, with a total attendance of 33.25 million students.

But, Liu admitted, China still lags far behind advanced countries, saying China is ready to learn from universities in the United States and other countries.

Chicago is the first leg of Liu's visit to the United States.

Under the theme of "Young People and Innovation," she and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will co-chair the fourth China-U.S. High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange this week.

China and the United States launched the consultation in 2010. Under the mechanism, the two countries have achieved remarkable results in the areas of education, science and technology, culture, sports, women's issues and young people.

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