University President Lee C. Bollinger Met with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang

On the afternoon of January 6, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang met with Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, a professor of law, in Zhongnanhai in Beijing.

January 10, 2016

On the afternoon of January 6, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang met with Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, a professor of law, in Zhongnanhai in Beijing.

When the scheduled meeting was over, both Prime Minister Li and University President Bollinger hoped that there could have been more time for the talk.

“I am very glad to meet you, but our protocol officer made a strict arrangement in my schedule. This perhaps is also a characteristic of the Internet Age in the way that our time has been divided and made accurate to a minute,” Prime Minister Li said with a smile.

The reason why the prime minister mentioned “the Internet Age” is that the university president just made an inquiry about China’s “Internet+” strategy. In fact, this meeting of foreign affairs on January 6 is more like an “interview” in a congenial atmosphere. President Bollinger hoped to hear the prime minister’s views towards some of the issues, about which both he himself and the global society concern, and Prime Minister Li answered all the questions one by one patiently.

“I know your schedule is very full and you have many important issues to handle. Thank you very much for answering my questions and welcome to visit Columbia University and deliver a speech whenever there is a convenient time,” President Bollinger said at the end of the meeting, “Columbia University is willing to contribute to the Western society’s deeper understanding of China and the joint efforts towards global issues”.

Sino-U.S. Collaboration in Education

The Sustainable Development of Chinese Economic Society Requires More High-Level, International Talents

At the beginning of the meeting, President Bollinger indicated to Prime Minister Li that Columbia University thought highly of the collaboration with China. Immediately following this statement, he raised the first question, “How do you think about the role Columbia University can play in China’s course of responding to the global challenges and dealing with the international affairs?”

Prime Minister Li said, in the early 20th century, Columbia University once produced a group of well-known Chinese scholars. Nowadays, both parties have more opportunities for collaboration to carry out academic exchange and training programs in more fields.

“China is at the critical stage of transformational development which will change the model of highly relying on natural resources into that of more depending on human resources. At the same time, we are also facing the complicated and mutable environment of world political economy."

All these need the professional talents who have international perspective to support,” the prime minister said, “China is willing to reinforce the relationship and collaboration with universities including Columbia University, academic institutions and research institutes worldwide to produce more high-level, international talents for the sustainable development of the Chinese economic society and better achieve mutual benefits”.

Chinese Economic Development

The Largest Challenge is the Unique National Situation of China as “the Most Populated Developing Country”

The second question from President Bollinger is about the Chinese economic situation—“What do you think is the most core challenge for China in terms of creating global perspective and realizing transformational development?”

Prime Minister Li Keqiang answered, “the biggest challenge China is facing is the unique national situation as “the most populated developing country”. He further elaborated, on the one hand, the Chinese economy has deeply merged into the world economy; on the other hand, China as a permanent member of the UN Security Council bears corresponding international responsibilities which make our challenges “similar but different to” those for the developed countries.

“As a country with a 1.3 billion population, China has no precedents in the entire human history to learn how to actualize modernization. We cannot find any existing experience as a reference”, Prime Minister Li emphasized, “We need to learn from other countries, especially the advanced technologies and experience from the developed countries. This requires us to further enhance our collaboration with the countries worldwide and jointly maintain the lasting peace”.

The “Internet+” Strategy

Making All Trades and Professions Use the Internet to Absorb the Wisdom of the Human Beings of All Nations

The third question from President Bollinger is concerning the wide concern about “Internet+” in the global society. This word which was first raised by the prime minister in the last year’s Report on the Work of the Government has just been elected as “the Annual Word” of 2015 in China. The same word has also been listed on the top of “the Five Hottest Words of 2015 in China”in the Wall Street Journal.

“I am very curious about your views towards China’s ‘Internet+’ Strategy", President Bollinger said, “I know you have said that in the developmental process of modernization, the Internet is a key factor, then from your point of view, how can the Internet actually promote the development of China?”

Prime Minister Li said, since the entrance into the 21st century, the globalization of the human society has become irresistible and one of the very important underlying reasons is the increasingly widespread dissemination of the Internet.

“The Internet has entered into each country, also into thousands of millions of ordinary Chinese families, and into every field in the Chinese economic and societal life,” the prime minister said, “We put forward the “Internet+” strategy is just to make all the trades and professions in China fully use the Internet to absorb the wisdom of the human beings of all nations. Chinese have an old saying, ‘If you accumulate the wisdom of the masses, then you can achieve big.’ If the Internet can fully play its role, then we can accumulate the wisdom of thousands of millions of people and spark unimaginable dynamics and societal creativity!”


(This news was covered by the official website of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China and republished by the major portable websites in China. President’s visit was also reported by the major national news media such as Xinhua News Agency and China News Agency.)