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Chinese Consul advocates for a strong relationship between United States, China



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Hong Lei, the consul general of the People's Republic of China in Chicago, gives a speech on China's recent advances and the relationship between China and the United States on Monday afternoon in the IU Auditorium. Lei spent the day on IU's campus meeting with students and faculty. Mallory Smith Buy Photos

The definition of a friendship between two nations is based on mutual respect, accommodation and common endeavors, said Hong Lei, China's Consul General in Chicago. 

The School of Global and International Studies organized a talk by Hong on Monday evening in the lobby of the IU Auditorium. The crowd exceeded the expected size and chairs had to be brought in from the back and people had to stand in the back. 

Hong spoke about the relationship between China and Indiana. Hong said that China is the third largest trade partner for the United States. 

Ten thousand Chinese students study in the state of Indiana. There are three Confucius Institutes and two Confucius classrooms in Indiana. 

According to the official Confucius Institute website, the institute is a public nonprofit that aims to promote Chinese language and culture in foreign countries.  

“My hope is that we can join hands and actively participate to build a brighter tomorrow,” Hong said. 

Hong talked about the relationship between the United States and China.

One education student asked about Hong’s attitude toward Chinese students studying in the United States. 

Hong said Chinese students are an important strategic asset.  

“Study here, make friends and develop a fondness for this country,” Hong said. “This experience builds a solid base for U.S. and China relations by bridging the gap between Chinese and American students.”

Hong said 38 years ago, you would hardly see any Chinese students at U.S. universities. Now, there are 330,000 Chinese students studying in the United States. Three thousand six hundred of those students study at IU.

A School of Public and Environmental Affairs student asked about President Donald Trump’s claim that climate change is a hoax created by China. 

Hong said China is taking responsibility for its part in climate change, and all levels of government in China are working toward a strategy to combat climate change. 

Alongside national efforts, China firmly adheres to the Paris Agreement in the hopes joint efforts will result in a solution to the challenge climate change presents. 

According to a United Nations website dedicated to the framework convention on climate change, the Paris Agreement's goal is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by agreeing to keep temperature increases down. 

Hong said the good relationship between the United States and China is in the interest of both nations. It would include working together toward a common aspiration of the world. The United States-China relationship has been growing since 1979.

In 1979, less than 10,000 members of either country visited each other. Since then, that number has grown to more than five million, Hong said.

An audience member asked Hong what he thought of past ideas of China and the United States working against each other. 

“As the two largest economies in the world, if we can’t work for a win-win result, the world will suffer,” Hong said. 

As an example, Hong spoke about the shared common interest of diffusing tension with North Korea. 

“We were very good neighbors for many years,” Hong said. “China is firmly opposed to the nuclear and missile programs. We want for North Korea to listen to the international appeal to denuclearize."

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