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Monticello Forges Partnership in China

Leslie Greene Bowman

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Signs Memorandum of Understanding with the National Library of China for Exhibition in 2015

On Wednesday, November 20, 2013 in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice Premier of China, Madame Liu Yandong, addressed the closing session of the 4th U.S.-China High Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE).   Monticello trustee, Ginger Huang Dietrich and I were in attendance.  We were delighted that Secretary Kerry mentioned the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s endeavor to launch an important and historic exhibition in China.  A video link to the speech is available here.

We originally presented a proposal to send an exhibition on Jefferson to China during the 3rd annual U.S.-China High Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE) in Beijing in 2012. Since then, we have partnered with the National Library of China to host and travel the proposed exhibition throughout the federation of Chinese libraries in Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and Shenyang. The National Library of China is the third largest library in the world and counterpart to the United States Library of Congress. 

Signing of Memorandum between the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and National LibraOn Friday, November 22, 2013, following the 4th CPE, I went to New York to attend the China-U.S. Symposium on Cultural Exchange, where Vice Premier Liu Yandong presided over a signing ceremony for China-U.S. cultural partners. I was delighted to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Director of the National Library of China, Zhou Heping.  This is a milestone in the Foundation’s vision to engage globally.  We are grateful to all who have helped to advance this vision, and for those who share in our excitement about these historic events.

We initiated this project with the encouragement of Minister Cai Wu of the People’s Republic of China and support from Madame Li Hong, former Deputy Director General of External Cultural Relations for the Ministry of Culture in China, and currently Minister Counselor for Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States.  Our Chinese partners understood the importance of this exhibition in fostering mutual understanding and recognition of common cultural values. The Foundation shares Minister Cai’s belief that “dialogue should help to increase understanding,” and believes that Thomas Jefferson’s inventive ideas, achievements, and commitment to human progress can be a bridge between our cultures. This exhibition is especially appropriate because of Jefferson’s early interest in China; his library included 17 titles related to Chinese history, commerce, design, geography, philology, and gardening.

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