From March 7 to March 15, 2002, a group of faculty and staff from the University of Virginia visited several major universities and public libraries in two cities (Shanghai and Bejing) in the People's Republic of China, to promote connections between the University of Virginia and universities in China, especially those (Fudan and Peking) who, like UVa, are U21 Consortium members. Beyond that, we hoped to find resources and partnerships that would serve Asian Studies and American Studies and to foster cooperative links between Alderman Library and some of the major Chinese research libraries. In order to have a substantive focus for discussions of these institutional exchanges, and to pave the way for other UVa East Asianists who might want to make use of these contacts, we foregrounded Anne Kinney's IATH- and Library-supported project on Liu Xiang's (77-6 B.C.) Lienü zhuan (the earliest extant book in the Chinese tradition solely devoted to the moral education of women), editions of which are held in each of the places we visited.
The UVa group left Richmond on Thursday, March 7th and arrived in Shanghai on Friday, March 8th. We remained in Shanghai until Tuesday, March 12th, then travelled to Bejing, where we stayed until our return on Friday, March 15th. While in Shanghai, we visited East China Normal University, Fudan University, the Shanghai Public Library, and the Institute of Academic Information and Library at the Shanghai Academy of Social Science; John Unsworth also visited, separately, with Jiemian Yang, invited by Steve Cushman to attend the UVa International American Studies conference in May, 2002, in Charlottesville. In Bejing, we visited the National Library and Peking University.
This report is intended for an internal UVa audience only: it provides details of each stop on the visit (with contact information for, and photographs of, most of the principle individuals involved), observations about each visit, and recommendations for follow-up actions, either on the part of the UVa visitors, or for others at the University of Virginia. Our summary observation is that the University of Virginia needs to be more active in cultivating its connection with some of these institutions: we believe that the effort would be welcomed and rewarded in a number of ways, and the results would be beneficial to both sides. We recommend following up in short order, too: the connections established on this visit should not be allowed to stagnate. The most promising institutional partners, at the University level, are both in Shanghai: ECNU, where a relationship already exists, but where much more is possible, and Fudan, where no relationship except U21 exists, but where we have been invited to propose more substantive forms of faculty and student exchange. For our Library, the library at Peking University and the National Library are both promising exchange partners. For IATH, ECNU seems willing to set up a mirror site, making IATH materials (including Tibetan, Chinese, and American Studies content) more readily available to a Chinese audience. For Anne Kinney's project, and possibly for the Library as well, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences offers a promising data entry service for Chinese texts, and the National Library seems very interested in supporting her research by providing access to their remarkable collections. In sum, it is clear that the major East Asia Centers in the U.S. have lavished a great deal of time and effort in establishing friendly relations with China's major universities and libraries: it is time for UVa to make similar efforts, not only in order to advance UVa's institutional agenda of increasing its international presence and name recognition, but also to open doors for UVa faculty and students, so that they can benefit from China's considerable institutional, cultural, and intellectual resources.
Shanghai. Saturday 3/9, Morning:
Ms. Huang Liping
Ms. Huang Xiuwen
Director of Main Library
3663 North Zhongshan Road, Shanghai 200062
Fax: 86-21- 6257-9196
Mr. Yu Haixian
Mr. Wu Ping
Rare Books Librarian
Ms. Huang Liping is an excellent and very hospitable point of contact for UVa visitors to ECNU; she helped to arrange the other contacts on this stop for us, and even arranged a car to take us to Suzhou on Sunday, with a driver and a guide. Note that ECNU has a brand-new four-star hotel on campus; future visitors should inquire about staying there.
The library director, Ms. Huang Xiuwen, seemed very supportive of Anne Kinney's project and its need for access to ECNU collections, and also seemed very interested in establishing a mirror site for the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities. She has deputized Mr. Yu Haixian to follow up on that with IATH, and they seem to have the appropriate server and software and to be ready to proceed with the technical arrangements.
Overall, this is the University of Virginia's best friend in China. They are very nice people (note the fact that at least five of their faculty and staff, including the director of their library, came in on the weekend to meet with us), and they are eager to collaborate. They seemed very willing to provide materials to Anne's project, as well as being willing to help procure materials for that project from other places. They made it clear that they are interested in all forms of faculty/student exchange.
Visit ECNU again soon, and invite them to visit us [NB: according to the Mellon Foundation's China advisor, June Mei, if we specifically "invite" Chinese academics or officials to visit us, they will expect us to pick up all expenses; if we wish, instead, to make it clear that they are welcome to visit if they are in the area, we should use other language.] The next visit might be a staff exchange in connection with setting up the IATH mirror site, or a further research visit by Anne Kinney. Establish student exchange programs, and investigate the possibility of faculty exchanges, perhaps on a semester basis. Also, we should pursue a document-delivery exchange program between the libraries of ECNU and UVa. ECNU is keenly interested in this, and the exchange would supplement our library's Chinese collection and benefit our faculty and students tremendously, while offering a similar benefit to ECNU in other collection areas.
Shanghai, Saturday, 3/9. Evening:
Vice President, Shanghai Institute for International Studies
Tel: (86-21) 5403-2403
Fax: (86-21) 5403-0272
Professor Yang has been in contact with Steve Cushman about the pending American Studies meeting, in May 2002, to discuss the possibility of establishing UVa as an international center of American Studies. Professor Yang has not been very responsive to Steve Cushman by email, but did take time out of a Saturday night to have dinner with John Unsworth during this visit (for exactly one hour, after which he left for another meeting). In conversation, it became clear that Professor Yang is primarily interested in contemporary American government and economic policy. According to June Mei, "Yang Jiemian's brother (Yang Jiechi) is the current Chinese ambassador to the US . . . [and an] advisor to the Chinese government [on US policy]. He was Vice Foreign Minister prior to his appointment as ambassador, and will likely retain that title when his term in DC ends. Yang Jiemian is more Shanghai based . . . [and] does have input to the Shanghai municipal government." He makes frequent trips to the U.S., to universities, conferences, think-tanks (like the Brookings Institute), etc., so the prospect of another trip to the U.S. for the American Studies meeting was not especially attractive to him, especially given the length of time involved. I suggested he might come for a day or two, and he seemed more interested in that possibility. He expressed interest in substantive proposals for collaboration, but I think those should come from Government, International Affairs, or Economics, not from American Studies.
Professor Yang is not our best point of contact for American Studies, though he might be a good contact for the Miller Center, for Larry Sabato, or for others interested in contemporary American government and economic policy. He has little, if any, interest in American history, literature, art, etc.. Professor Huang Yongming, at Fudan University, would be a better contact for American Studies.
Shanghai, Monday 3/11, Morning
Mr. Qin Zengfu
Director, Fudan University Library
Professor Ge Jianxiong
Director of Historical Geography Institute
Professor Huang Yongming
English Language and Literature
Director, Foreign Affairs Office of Fudan University
Fudan Uiversity and Peking University are the Chinese equivalent of ivy league institutions, and visitors should be prepared for an attitude of superiority on the part of representatives of both institutions; it is worth noting, though, that if Fudan seems more strident in this regard, it may be because they are generally ranked just behind Peking University. Also, representatives of these institutions who deal regularly with Americans have been taught (perhaps by experience) that traditional Chinese modesty and self-deprecation is perceived by Americans as a sign of weakness--but their attempt at American-style assertiveness may come across as self-aggrandizement. Huang Yongming, who exemplifies this problem, is nonetheless a good U21 contact, and seems to devote a good deal of his time to cultivating relationships with universities outside of China; he has also visited UVa in the past (on an unofficial trip), and he did seem very interested in establishing substantive exchange programs with our University (though skeptical of distance education technology). Mr. Ge has some interesting historical map data, but coverage is limited (both in the periods covered, and in the provinces included). He is very willing to have others use the data his group produces, and would welcome reciprocal contributions of data. Mr. Qin, the director of the libraries, is very jovial and engaging, but didn't actually show us any of the library's rare books.
Follow up with Huang Yongming, invite him to visit UVa, propose substantive faculty/student exchange program with Fudan. Recommend him to Steve Cushman as an American Studies contact, send Anne Kinney back to Fudan so (next time) she can actually see the dozen rare editions of her text held by Fudan.
Shanghai, Monday 3/11, Afternoon
Mr. Wu Jianming
Director, International Cooperation Division
Department of Foreign Affairs
Tel: 86-21-6445-5555 (ext.1107)
Mr. Feng Jinniu
Historical Documents Center Deputy Chief
Tel: 86-21-6445-5555 x1113
The Shanghai Public Library is a beautiful building, with impressive reading rooms, but the quality of the collections isn't clear—for example, they claimed to have only one copy of Lienü zhuan, but later turned up a second one. This would be a good place for visiting scholars to go and work, but the level of personal attention (or institutional connection) one can expect here is fairly low. Visiting scholars need a temporary library card, which can be obtained with a passport or other identification. Mr. Feng Jinniu is in charge of the rare books collections; the slightly more friendly Mr. Wu Jianming oversees international contacts.
When visiting this institution, call ahead and confirm the visit at least once, best on the day before. This is a large public facility with lots of visitors, and it is easy to get lost in the shuffle. On our visit, they were initially under the impression we were from Berkeley (the head librarian of U-C Berkeley and the Librarian of Berkeley's East Asia library were visiting at the same time).
Shanghai, Tuesday 3/12, Morning
Institute of Academic Information and Library at the Shanghai Academy of Social Science (SASS)
Wang Chengzhi (Henry Wang)
Director of Library
SASS is a good point of contact for further introductions to more appropriate academies (i.e., in humanities), and Mr. Wang would be willing to provide such introductions. SASS also runs a Chinese-language keyboarding service, a potentially valuable resource for the Library's Chinese Text Initiative, for Anne Kinney's project and also for any other UVa projects interested in digitizing Chinese texts. Also, The SASS library, although somewhat disorganized, possesses a tremendous wealth of primary sources, particularly pre-1949 materials that would be valuable for scholars and students who engage in research on China, particularly in the social sciences. In general, these are good people, genuinely interested in further contact. They are concerned about the fact that their students cannot get visas (after 9/11) to come to the US to study: anything we can do to help in that area would probably cement the relationship between UVa and SASS.
The Miller Center should be encouraged to consider bringing Henry Wang over as a student or research associate: his English is excellent, and this would be an important gesture, from our side. It should also be noted that his father is a Nobel laureate in literature (Gao Xingjian, currently in exile in France). Anne Kinney should follow up with Mr. Wang Yizhi about making connections with other Academy of Social Sciences Institutes in other disciplines, in Shanghai and elsewhere. She should also inquire about the possibility of using this connection to gain access to materials at Fudan University Library. In general, it would be useful to have someone like Wang Yizhi explain the entire system of Institutes, Academies, etc., to us. It would be worth it to pay for a visit from him (or from Henry Wang) just for that purpose.
Bejing, Wednesday 3./13, Morning
National Library of China
Ms. Sun Liping
Director of International Cooperation Division
Tel: 86-10- 6841-5566
Fax: 86-10- 6841-9290
Associate Research Librarian
Director, Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections
Having been led to expect indifference, we were surprised at the friendly reception we received at the National Library, and we were particularly grateful for the thoughtful and thorough special showing of rare books we were given, with at least a dozen very rare and interesting (and highly relevant) works laid out in advance for our inspection, in the most protected vault. This was the one library we visited that seemed to understand issues of preservation, and they seemed very interested in our digital library initiatives, and particularly interested in consulting on the digitization of their 35,000 oracle bones, a technical and intellectual problem equivalent to digitizing inscriptions on stone, something IATH has done before, in two different projects dealing with classical-era greek, latin, and hebrew inscriptions. Chris Jessee's experience in using digital photography and Quicktime VR to produce 3D views of books (for Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture) could be relevant here as well.
Anne Kinney should visit again, and spend time in these collections, which are very rich. IATH should investigate the possibility of consulting or collaboration on oracle bone digitization. The National Library is China's premiere library, and UVa should maintain a cordial relationship with it: cooperative projects offer a concrete basis for such a relationship.
Bejing, Wednesday 3/11, Afternoon:
Mr. Yao Boyue
Curator, Peking University Rare Book
Ms. Zhang Hongyang (Christine)
Niu Dayong, our U21 contact, was a no-show: he was in a meeting for the three hours that we were there. The director of the library had been taken ill; the deputy director of the library and the University vice-president were at meetings in Japan, so the reception at Peking University was pretty thin; on the other hand, the library staff (our hostess and the rare books librarian) were very cordial, allowed us to examine editions of rare books, took us on a tour of their rare book stacks, seemed very interested in our digital initiatives, and offered to share their own digital collections with our University library, as well as welcoming future study visits by University faculty.
Frankly, Peking University seems like a waste of time for U21: our reception (as representatives of the University of Virginia) was very disappointing, and there was no evidence given, in this visit, that institutional contacts with UVa were perceived by Peking University as being of value. Our Library should follow up with a formal request for access to databases produced by the Peking University library, and Anne Kinney should visit again, to make use of their collections.
The Shanghai Museum expressed an interest in our visit, but we were unable to coordinate our schedules with theirs, so we only visited the museum as tourists, on Saturday afternoon. If Anne Kinney visits in the future, it would be worth another attempt to connect with staff at the Shanghai Museum.
The Sackler Museum in Beijing was closed for renovations, so we were unable to visit them. We didn't have any indication from them whether they would be interested in a visit in the future.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has done a good deal of work in China, with the Chinese government, on the digital reproduction of historical Chinese art works. Mellon also has good connections to UVa, through IATH and the Library, and Don Waters has offered to introduce us to some of the Chinese officials they have worked with. They would probably also share the text of agreements for digitization worked out with those officials, if it were appropriate to do so. Their translator and advisor on Chinese affairs, June Mei, was very helpful in briefing us in advance of our trip, and might be retained or consulted by the University in the future.
We are grateful to Bill Quandt, Vice Provost for International Affairs, for his financial support of this trip: it was a valuable experience for all the UVa participants, and we believe that with prompt and thoughtful follow-up this investment will pay dividends for the University of Virginia. Many thanks are also due to Chen Jian, of the History Department and the Miller Center, for helping us make some of the initial connections with Peking University, and for all of his email communications, phone calls, and face-to-face discussions arranging the details of our visits with East China Normal University (including the trip to Suzhou) and the Institute of Academic Information and Library at SASS. We are also grateful to June Mei, for her advice in advance of our visit, and to Swan Kim, a graduate student in the English Department and a research assistant on Anne Kinney's IATH project, who worked very hard on our travel arrangements.