Although short, the trip to China was a great success. First, President Chakma was able to see the Soochow-Western Centre for Radiation Research at Soochow University and meet with the president there. This visit helped to show Soochow how important this partnership is to Western by reciprocating a visit that Soochow's President made to Western in November of 2011. Second, signing the faculty exchange agreement with Nanjing University will help us to foster ties with this top Chinese institution located in London's sister city, Nanjing. Finally, we were able to showcase Western to Premier McGuinty, Minister Duguid, and Minister Chan both through our significant activities in China and through personal interactions.
Today began early with a 7:30 am hotel departure to catch a 9:00 am high-speed train to Nanjing. The train reached speeds of around 275 km/hour and yet the ride was very smooth and you could still see the countryside. We travelled with Premier McGuinty, his official delegation and the media team.
At 2:00 p.m. Premier McGuinty, President Chakma, Minister Chan, and the rest of the delegation arrived at Nanjing University.
The delegation toured Professor Hua’s State (National-level) Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. Professor Hua is working with WORLDiscoveries Asia to develop the pharmaceutical potential of one of Western’s discoveries. (Photo courtesy Premier of Ontario Photography, on Flickr)
We then travelled across campus to meet President Chen Jun of Nanjing University.
After being shown a video about Nanjing University, Premier McGuinty and President Chakma discussed the value of partnerships and the importance of educational collaborations to Ontario. This was followed by a signing ceremony in which the presidents of the universities signed a faculty exchange agreement.
The agreement with Nanjing University will provide Western faculty members – from any department or field - with the opportunity to teach and work at Nanjing University for up to one full academic year; and in turn, Western will host Nanjing University faculty for the same time period. They will work as full-time faculty members, building research relationships and creating international learning experiences for students at each institution.
Nanjing University is one of China's top-ranked comprehensive universities, with strengths in science, medicine, engineering and technology, social sciences and management, arts and humanities – making it a strong partner for Western. The engagement of faculty in exchange opportunities will bring the two institutions closer, fostering further collaboration in research and education, and providing opportunity for faculty to enhance their international experience.
Western and Nanjing University students already have exchange opportunities through the Ontario Jiangsu Student Exchange Program. President Chakma and Premier McGuinty had the opportunity to talk with students today who were either planning to study in Ontario or had studied in Ontario in the past. (First photo courtesy Premier of Ontario Photography, on Flickr)
The day ended with a traditional Chinese banquet that was hosted by the Vice-Governor of Jiangsu Province, Ontario’s sister Chinese province.
President Chakma travelled to Suzhou this morning to visit one of Western’s partners, Suzhou University (the English spelling of Suzhou is Soochow). In the meantime, I stayed in Shanghai to observe the official signing ceremonies, to present information to Shanghai research institutes and businesses about Western’s water research, and to meet with potential partners in this area.
The signing ceremonies began with speeches from Canadian Ambassador, Guy Saint-Jacques, Premier Dalton McGuinty, and Vice-Chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), Mr. Wang Jinzhen.
This is Premier McGuinty’s fifth trade mission to China. He is a keen supporter Ontario developing economic and educational partnerships. There are good reasons for this. Mr. Wang told the crowd that Shanghai, a city of 23 to 24 million people, experienced 10% growth in GDP per capita last year.
Mr. McGuinty also has a very personal connection with China. He told the crowd that of the 9 Chinese students who came to Canada to study in 1973, 3 of them stayed with his family. It is quite extraordinary that Premier McGuinty got to know a third of the Chinese students studying in Canada back then. Of course, this would be impossible today because 68,000 Chinese students are currently studying in Canada. But, this story is perhaps even more extraordinary when one notes that the McGuinty household was already comprised of 10 children, two parents and two dogs.
Mr. McGuinty understands the importance of developing deep relationships with colleagues in China and on more than one occasion other speakers noted that “he gets it.” Western is working very hard on developing these partnerships and that is why President Chakma made the two-hour journey to visit Suzhou University.
President Chakma met with the President of Suzhou University, Professor Zhu Xiulin and my counterpart in the International Office, Dr. Huang Xing.
After lunch, President Chakma toured the newly founded Western-Soochow Centre for Synchrotron Radiation Research and met with professors in the research centre. He was very impressed with the facilities and delighted to learn that Western Professor and Royal Society Fellow, Professor T.K. Sham is co-directing the centre.
In the meantime, I gave a short presentation about Western’s water research to a group of about 40 potential industry and research and development partners. Short meetings to discuss possible connections between the research that goes on at Western and the needs of the Chinese organizations followed this.
The day wrapped up with a networking reception at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, sponsored by Manulife. The event was held in the beautiful Bund area of Shanghai. President Chakma and I were pleasantly surprised to meet about a dozen Western alumni at this event.
Tomorrow we travel with the official Premier’s delegation to Nanjing on a high-speed train that travels at speeds of 300 km/hour. This is a big day for us, as we will have an official signing ceremony with Nanjing University.
President Chakma and I had lunch with Professor Yitao Long of East China University of Science and Technology. We discussed the possibility of student exchange and Professor Long hosting students in his lab.
This afternoon we hosted 11 alumni of Western and Ivey who currently live and work in Shanghai. We had great discussions about the future of Western and alumni engagement. Brian Chen, a MOS graduate showed us a Weibo post that featured Western and Dr. Chil-Yong Kang’s HIV research. It was a post that highlighted the 20 things most people don’t know about Canada.
Jason Inch, an Ivey grad presented us with copies of his recently published book, China’s Economic Supertrends
After a delegation briefing meeting, dignitaries from the provincial government and the embassy and consulate of Canada to China gave words of welcome.
At the networking reception Dr. Chakma was able to discuss Western’s international goals
with the Ambassador of Canada to China,
Tomorrow is a busy day. I’m involved with meetings to discuss Western’s research activities in the area of water, while Dr. Chakma travels to Suzhou to tour the Western-Soochow Centre for Synchrotron Radiation Research.
President Chakma and I landed in Shanghai, China after a long but uneventful flight. We were on the same flight as Premier McGuinty so we were greeted at the airport by Canada's ambassador to China, Mr. Guy St. Jacques and the Consul General from the Shanghai office, Mr. Rick Savone. Meetings begin tomorrow.
Purpose of Ontario trade mission:
The mission delegation will visit a Nanjing University laboratory where a Western discovery is being further developed. Western and Nanjing University will formally sign a new faculty exchange agreement in attendance with the Premier.
Dr. Chakma is the only university president participating in the mission. He previously travelled to China in February 2012 with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his role as Chair of the Advisory Panel on Canada's International Education Strategy.
Other Ontario postsecondary institutions represented include: Laurier University, Ryerson University, Trent University, the University of Toronto and Fleming College.
Western Delegate Destinations:
The Ontario delegation also includes:
Over the past few years Western has established strong research and education partnerships in Nanjing, Chengdu and Jiangsu province, with the aim of growing international opportunities for students and knowledge mobilization for Western research.
January 13-15: Shanghai
January 15-16: Nanjing