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The Chinese diplomats who developed their skills at LSE

LSE’s role in helping to shape a generation of Chinese diplomats has been remembered by both former students and teachers who were involved in the country’s first foray onto Houghton Street.

An article in the South China Morning Post, the Hong Kong daily newspaper, recounts how several of China’s current leaders came to LSE in the 1970s as the first wave of students from a country that was beginning to establish links with the West.

They included Yang Jiechi, now China’s Foreign Minister and Zhang Yesui who is ambassador to the US.

The article in the South China Morning Post is headlined ‘LSE gave budding diplomats a new world view’ and also identifies eight other Chinese leaders who came to LSE to study on the General Course for a year.

Yang_Jiechi_150x100They arrived at a time when relations between China and the Western world were beginning to develop. US President Richard Nixon visited China in 1972 and the country’s leaders Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai decided that their young diplomats would benefit from wider horizons.

Michael Yahuda, now emeritus professor at LSE, was the School’s China expert and led the welcome to the School. He told the SCMP: ‘I like to think that their experience at LSE helped them to understand a key Western institution and to get a feel for how democracy in a leading Western country operates without generating disorder. Perhaps for the first time in their lives they were able to read what they liked, think independently, while seeing themselves as in a real sense representing China.’

The article recounts how the Chinese students adjusted to life in London and study at LSE as well as tracing their careers since.

Yang Jiechi was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by LSE at its Asia Forum in Beijing in March 2010. He said then: ‘I found my time at LSE most rewarding and memorable. It was not only my educational experience…it prepared me well for diplomatic career in the ensuing years.’

Full article from the South China Morning Post