University Post
University of Copenhagen
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Big visit excites Chinese PhDs and students

If you had five minutes to 'talk Denmark' with Chinese President Hu Jintao, what would you say? The University Post has the reactions from Chinese PhDs and students on the eve of a presidential visit next week

Given a one-on-one chat with Hu Jintao, Chinese PhDs and students in Copenhagen would praise the Danish system for its child care, social welfare and low crime rates. This is according to PhDs and students that the University Post talked to.

On June 14 President Hu Jintao and other high ranking officials will be visiting Denmark to discuss economic relations, environmental policy and other issues. The upcoming visit is one in a string of contacts between high level Chinese politicians and Denmark. Economic, political and academic ties seem to be slowly growing.

»It will be a historical event for both countries and will promote our mutual understanding,« reports Wenjie Li, who is right now in Beijing, but is doing her PhD on Danish writer H.C. Andersen at Copenhagen’s Faculty of Humanities.

»I am very happy that he is coming to Denmark, and I hope to be able to see him when he is here,« says Yufei Wang, a PhD student from the province of Liaoning, northeast of China’s capital city. For two years she has been researching the irrigation of pear trees at the former Faculty of Life Science in Taastrup and lives in Copenhagen with her husband and child.

Danes ‘friendly’

Asked what she would recommend to Chinese president Hu Jintao, Yufei said that she would praise the Danish child care system.

»Children are very happy here in Kindergarten. The teachers are friendly and the children are friendly towards each other.«

Her praise extends to the Danish people, which »say hello even though they don’t know you, and chat with you at the bus stop,« she says.

See article on new Danish-Chinese centre here.

China can learn from social system

Xiaowen Shi is a PhD in Assyrian archaeology and has been previously profiled on the University Post.

In his opinion »Chinese people have a very good impression of Denmark,« he says.

The Danish social system holds many lessons for his home country, Xiaowen says: »If we learn how it runs here, we can reform the system in China«, he says.

Good to discuss

Always controversial on state visits from China is human rights, with the big question being how much Danish politicians should let it fill the agenda. It is unclear whether it will be discussed at all in meetings, even though Danish foreign minister Villy Søvndal and Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt affirm that they will bring it up.

But should it be? Yufei Wang says she does not know enough to be able to hold an opinion on the issue. Xiaowen Shi is more open to the politicians taking the hard talk.

»It’s OK, the ideas of Chinese and Danish people are not exactly the same and its good to discuss, compare and learn.«

PM: Will boost business

China’s visit comes hot on the heels of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Denmark, and China’s dispute over the Nobel peace prize with Norway. China is also seeking observer status in the Arctic circle group, an important body where Denmark has a vote.

According to Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the president Hu Jintao’s official visit to Denmark next week will hopefully provide a much-needed boost for the business sector and job creation in this country, reports

She promised at the same time that she wouldn’t be afraid to raise the thorny issues of Tibet and human rights during talks in Copenhagen. She said both Denmark and China have a great deal to win through closer cooperation with each other and she was looking forward to discussing how to advance the strategic partnership between the two nations.

Will be judged by history

After two decades of controversy, prime minister at the time, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, signed a strategic partnership agreement with China in 2008, focusing on strengthening the political dialogue between Copenhagen and Beijing and increasing cooperation in areas such as climate, environment, energy, research and education – even though China was reckoned guilty of violating human rights internally and in Tibet.

The Danish People’s Party’s (DPP) foreign affairs spokesman , Søren Espersen, said the government should be aware that the President they’ll be warmly greeting next week is a ‘communist dictator with many misdeeds on his conscience’ reports and

»There will come a day when history will judge the current government and Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal (SF) very hard for having received the Chinese dictator so warmly and without criticism,« he said.

Student: Safety and low crime rate

At the same time as the visit, China is preparing to open a cultural institute in Copenhagen, similar to ones in France, Spain, and Germany. Chinese officials had discussed the possibility of placing the centre, aimed at attracting Chinese artists and academics, in Oslo, Stockholm, or Copenhagen, but finally chose the Danish capital.

Derek C. Matfhias is a student at the University of Copenhagen from Hong Kong – since 1997, an autonomous part of China. If he had five minutes with Hu Jintao, he would try and get him to study how and why the Danish crime rate is so low, he writes to the University Post.

»I need not worry about safety here, walking in the street at midnight, having my door and window open.«

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