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Indiana University

A Diplomatic Visit

Professor Scott Kennedy waits while Party Secretary Jin Deshui reviews notes before our meeting

As a newspaper reporter and as a media relations professional, I have had the opportunity to interview or simply meet U.S. senators, politicians and presidents, as well as authors and the stars of rock, jazz, folk and blues music.

I met President Barack Obama when he made his memorable visit to Bloomington and IU’s Little 500 in 2008 as a candidate. Others I’ve met include Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, California Gov. Jerry Brown, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell, U.S. Sen. Ron Paul and millionaire oil man T. Boone Pickens.

Musical icons who I’ve spoken with include the late opera singer Beverly Sills, rocker John Mellencamp, jazz legends Michael Brecker and Chick Corea, members of the great rock band The BoDeans and the late Queen of the Blues Koko Taylor.

My reasons for relating all of this isn’t meant to brag, but to offer context for a remarkable and memorable meeting we had this week with Jin Denshui, governor of Zhejiang Province and a Communist Party secretary. In addition to being an imposing figure, the setting for our well-choreographed visit was impressive.

According to his bio, Jin Deshui is a native of Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province and joined the Communist Party in 1982. He completed postgraduate classes at the Party school of the Zhejiang Provincial CPC and is an economist.

He previously held leading posts in the province, including as mayor of Ningbo City, where we visited the Geely auto plant, and also as mayor of Lanxi City. He was director of the Economic and Trade Commission of Zhejiang Province and has served as vice governor of the province since 2004.

A view from the inner circle

He was appointed Communist Party secretary for Zhejiang University last month. Major institutions in China all have such party leadership offering such direction.

Our visit is by no means a casual one. Although he warmly receives us, we are careful to display respect expected for such a top government official. Diplomacy is necessary.

We gathered in a circular room on the 17th floor in a building at Zhejiang University’s Zijingang campus. A gorgeous chandelier hangs from an alcove in the ceiling and a large oriental rug encompasses us from below. Doilies cover the chairs. As in other meetings we had this week, we were served tea, bottled water with a glass and a damp cold towel.

As we enter, everyone is expected to present their business cards to Jin Deshui, although he has obviously been fully briefed about who is in attendance and about the purpose of our visit.

Sixteen people sit in the inner circle and there is a proscribed seating arrangement. Professors Scott Kennedy and Idelene Kesner, who each represent the IU administration at the meeting, sit closest to the party secretary.

Some of you may be surprised to learn that I too sat in the inner circle. But then you also already knew that I represented IU well.

Indiana journalism was well represented

Our meeting lasted for about 45 minutes. Speaking through an interpreter, Jin Deshui welcomed us and talks to us about the relationship between IU and Zhejiang University, recently announced economic policies in China and then answered a couple of questions from the journalists in our group.

He particularly liked the question from Chris Fyall, reporter from the Bloomington Herald-Times.

Overall, the meeting went very well and contributed to ongoing cooperation between IU, Indiana and Zhejiang. He told us that in July, the party secretary of Zhejiang Province will lead a delegation to Indiana.




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