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Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji to speak at MIT April 14

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Premier Zhu Rongji of the People's Republic of China will visit the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Wednesday, April 14, to deliver a major address on science, technology and education that will be broadcast live in the United States and around the world.

Attendance in the 1,200-seat Kresge Auditorium will be limited to the MIT community and invited guests. [Information for MIT community members who wish to attend may be found at:]

MIT President Charles M. Vest commented, "I am very pleased that Premier Zhu Rongji will visit MIT and share his thoughts about science, technology and education. We are very fortunate to host world leaders from time to time. As an educational institution, MIT has the opportunity and the obligation to foster discussion of important issues in today's global society. These occasions promote mutual learning and focus the attention of both leaders and the public on what is common to the concerns of very different societies. In so doing, I believe that they contribute to peace and human progress.

"We see China -- and US relations with China -- as major issues for American society and for the world. We know that China will have an increasingly important world role in the creation of new scientific, technological and industrial activities.

"Last September I wrote to Premier Zhu to invite him to visit MIT and address our community. I had met with him in Beijing in 1995, and we discussed science, technology, education, the economy, and issues of energy and environment. Interestingly, Premier Zhu was then and still is the dean of the business school at Tsinghua University in Beijing. MIT's Sloan School of Management has a substantial educational initiative with Tsinghua, and with Fudan University in Shanghai.

"MIT faculty and students are involved in many projects in the PRC, ranging from working with high school students to establish Internet communication to a major environmental study of coal combustion throughout that nation," said Dr. Vest.

The address at MIT is one of the major events of Premier Zhu's visit to the United States next month. He will take questions from the audience following his address. The event will be carried live by CNN on its national and international channels, and Chinese TV also plans to broadcast it live, CNN officials said. The speech is to be given in Chinese with simultaneous translation; the audience will have headsets. The speech will be broadcast on MIT Cable and shown around the campus in public spaces.

In recent articles, the New York Times has described him as "blunt-speaking" but with a "casual style." The late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said of him, "Zhu has his own views, dares to make decisions and knows economics." The Encyclopedia Britannica in 1993 commented, "Vice Premier Zhu Rongji (is) a no-nonsense technocrat much admired in the West."

Premier Zhu will be at MIT for a little over an hour on the morning of April 14, but the precise timing of his arrival and his speech is still under discussion.

He announced his visit to the United States on March 15 at a time of tension over questions of nuclear secrets and human rights. "Of course, it will not be easy for me to go to the United States in such an atmosphere," he told a 90-minute news conference broadcast live in Beijing. "My goal is to let you vent your anger and complaints and to tell you the truth -- and to regain the momentum of building a strategic partnership between China and the United States," he said. The New York Times' reporter commented, "Mr. Zhu's casual style made the serious conflicts percolating between the two nations seem more like spats between old friends."

Mr. Zhu, an electrical engineer, has been a planner, a teacher, an engineer, an economist, mayor of Shanghai, governor of the central bank, as well as vice premier. He was named the fifth premier of the People's Republic of China in March, 1998.

Mr. Zhu was born in October, 1928 in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan province. He joined the Communist Party in October, 1949 and got his degree in electrical engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing, the leading technical university in China. His first job was deputy head of the production planning office of the Northeast China Ministry of Industries. From there, he went to the State Planning Commission, where he worked 17 years.

During the Cultural Revolution, from 1970 to 1975, he was transferred to work at the May Seventh Cadre School, a kind of farm for re-education. From 1975 to 1979, he was deputy chief engineer for a company run by the Pipeline Bureau and also served as director of the Industrial Economic Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

From 1979 to 1987, he worked with the State Economic Commission as a deputy director, a member, and then vice-minister in charge of the Commission. In 1987, he was appointed Mayor of Shanghai, where he improved telecommunications, construction, transportation and development of the area. In 1991, he became vice-premier and director of the State Council Production office.

In 1993, Mr. Zhu was named governor of the Bank of China, the central bank. The Encyclopedia Britannica commented, "In his take-charge style, Zhu quickly moved to tighten the money supply by restricting credit, cutting back on government spending, increasing savings through compulsory government bond purchases, slashing capital purchases, and strengthening price controls that still remained. The effects on property prices and construction activity were immediate and dramatic."

In his news conference two weeks ago, Mr. Zhu talked of China's eagerness to be admitted to the World Trade Organization. Regarding the economy, Mr. Zhu said the government would not devalue its currency and would no longer prop up insolvent companies, the New York Times reported.

Mr. Zhu will be accompanied by his wife, Madame Lao An. They have known each other since childhood and attended together both Hunan First Provincial Middle School and Tsingha University. They have a son and a daughter.

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