Consul General Robert Griffiths from the Consulate General of the U.S.A. at Shanghai visited SJTU on December 3 and gave a speech at the Joint Institute on U.S.-China cooperation. As leaders of the model of U.S.-China collaborative education, Executive Dean Peisen Huang and Associate Dean Gang Zheng represented the JI and received Mr. Griffiths warmly. Prof. Huang gave a briefing of JI’s current state and accomplishments; Mr. Griffiths showed great interest and was very impressed.
Mr. Griffiths surprised the audience by his fluent Chinese, with which he delivered his speech in its entirety. He attributed his language talent to a ‘long-haired’ dictionary: a Chinese girlfriend. His humor broke the ice and his easygoing style shortened his distance with the Chinese audience. Based on his 13-year experience in China, Mr. Griffiths has witnessed the evolvement of deep and broad cooperation between the two countries in various areas, including economy, trade, culture, education, and scientific research. He cited many facts to prove that the United States are not trying to hold back China; on the contrary, the U.S. welcomes China’s peaceful rise, which he thinks is a win-win ticket for both countries. He emphasizes the exchange between the two peoples at the grass root as the essence for the cooperation between the two countries.
At the Q & A session, several students asked Mr. Griffiths a wide variety of questions, including the high American college tuition, difficulty to procure American scientific equipment, the impact of U.S. economy on research funding, the influence of Chinese multinational companies on Sino-American relation, and how to share the rich U.S. resources with the rest of the world. Mr. Griffiths was very impressed with JI students’ English level, and he answered every question at great length. He encouraged students to do research on possible opportunities of scholarship and research funding, understand the U.S. through all kinds of channels in study and work, discover the common ground of the two governments in social development and human progress, and take advantage of the rich resources. He believes in people-to-people relation and hopes everyone will contribute to the cooperation between the two great countries.
At the conclusion of the speech, Mr. Griffiths was presented a caricature portrait of himself drawn by a JI student and JI’s stylish necktie as a token of appreciation. 
Background information: Mr. Griffiths has been serving as a Counselor in the U.S. Foreign Service. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University. His previous overseas postings include Bogota, Colombia, Kaohsiung and Taipei with the American Institute in Taiwan, and Shanghai and Beijing on mainland China. He has also served three tours in Thailand. Mr. Griffiths speaks Thai and Chinese.
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