Interview: Cambridge University seeks closer ties with China

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The strides China has taken since its reform and opening-up in 1978 has been unprecedented in history. That direction of opening up and cooperation is welcome, Toope said.

The vice chancellor said he placed diversity at the heart of his thinking. "I think what marks a great university is diversity of engagement, diversity of thought, diversity of practices, so that a wide range of people bring their talents to the university. We then have to have the ability to make sure that they are talking with each other, so we need flexibility and the way we organize our labs, the way we organize our teaching structures," he said.

China has made great progress in the evolution of its universities and the best way an institution like Cambridge can help is through "smaller partnerships", like joint work at the level of laboratories and research groups, he added.

Toope said his university has developed many links with China.

He expressed the belief that China would be at the heart of international cooperation in the foreseeable future due to its capacity, and hoped the University of Cambridge would play a role in the cooperation.

"There will be more opportunities to engage actively with China, a country with an extraordinarily growing influence which a university like Cambridge must pay attention to," Stephen Toope said.

by Gu Zhenqiu, Gui Tao, Peter Barker

CAMBRIDGE, Britain, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Boosting its cooperation with China is at the top of the agenda for the University of Cambridge, its vice chancellor told Xinhua.

Toope, a scholar specializing in international relations, has worked closely with his Chinese colleagues both in academia and government. He has discussed a possible collaboration with the Chinese Ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming.

COOPERATION WITH CHINA

Many scientists and scholars in the university have had close links with Chinese institutions and universities, including the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tsinghua University and Peking University in Beijing. Now the university is looking to develop a new hub in Nanjing.

Toope said about 10 percent of the students -- around 1,60 -- are Chinese. The university welcomes more outstanding Chinese students to study in Cambridge, he said.