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Cablegate: American Culture Week a Big Hit at Xiamen University

VZCZCXRO5311
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #0646 3270224
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 230224Z NOV 09
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1121
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE 0358
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0897
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0289
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0290
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0299
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC 0338
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC 0334

UNCLAS GUANGZHOU 000646

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM, EAP/PD AND INR/EAP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SOCI SCUL PREL ETRD PGOV SENV OPRC CH XA
SUBJECT: American Culture Week A Big Hit at Xiamen University
(U) This document is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly. Not for release outside U.S. government channels. Not
for internet publication.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: ConGen Guangzhou hosted its first ever "American
Culture Week" at Xiamen University's School of Humanities from
November 9-13. Despite pressure from the University's Foreign
Affairs Office to cancel the program, including the Consul General's
opening speech highlighting the President's then impending visit, a
professor at the university prevailed and allowed the Consulate
access for five full days of public diplomacy programming. The
program was so well-attended that two additional academic
institutions, to which the Consulate had never been permitted
access, invited PASOff to speak during the same week. ConGen
Guangzhou will use the week's activities as a model for programming
similar culture weeks at universities in Hainan and Guangdong
provinces in the next six months. END SUMMARY.
Making a Splash at one of China's Top Universities
--------------------------------------------- -----

2. (U) Xiamen University (Xiada) is one of China's "211"
universities- i.e. one of the government-designated 100 best
universities in the 21st century- and is regarded as one of China's
top 20 universities. The week kicked off with an opening ceremony
and remarks delivered by the Consul General to about 100 students
and faculty, highlighting the President's then imminent arrival as
well as American culture. During the week PASOff lectured on "What
is American Culture?;" hosted five discussions following the School
of Humanities' screenings of Mona Lisa Smile, In the Wild, Forrest
Gump, Gran Torino, and Dead Poets Society; participated in panel
discussions on Henry David Thoreau and American Individualism,
America's Cultural Personality: Optimism and Creativity, the
American Financial System, and American Evolution: How Social
Distinctiveness Influenced Traditional Values; and toured Xiada's
main and Zhangzhou campus libraries to discuss American Corners,
increasing cooperation and access to Public Affairs IRC resources,
and possible programming of American culture events. Total
attendance at the week's events was 920 people.
Welcome to Xiamen -- Sort Of
--------------------------------------

3. (SBU) While no activities were interrupted or cancelled, the
school's Foreign Affairs Office (FAO), heavily scrutinized all
events. Bowing to pressure, the Dean of the Humanities School
dropped out of the opening ceremony at the last minute. The
Chinese-American professor who was the driving force behind getting
the Consulate access reported that he faced strong pressure to
disinvite the Consul General from the opening ceremony (but refused
to do so). Two FAO representatives attended the first day of
programs and the professor who helped PAS organize the programming
reported that the FAO was requiring him to produce a report on all
Consulate activities in Xiamen (which he also flatly refused to do).

Collateral Rewards
------------------

4. (U) Guangzhou had never been granted access to the Xiamen
University of Technology or Yuntai High School, but teachers from
both schools attended PASOff's first lecture and then promptly
invited her to speak at their respective schools. Four days later,
PASOff spoke at Yuntai High School to 40 high school students about
American culture and U.S. higher education and then traveled to
Xiamen University of Technology and spoke to more than 200 students
in the Foreign Languages School. Both visits ended with applause
and invitations to return to do further programming.
Will There Be a Next Time?
--------------------------

5. (SBU) COMMENT: While American Culture Week was popular with
Chinese students and professors, it is still too early to tell
whether it will reduce Fujian FAO suspicions of public diplomacy
initiatives and lead to increased access to universities in Fujian.
END COMMENT.
GOLDBECK

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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