Olin Professor Phil Dybvig joined a select group of foreign experts last week in a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. The annual event has very high visibility in China, part of a series of events wrapped into Chinese media coverage of the lead-up to the Spring Festival Celebration—the lunar New Year.
Dybvig is WashU Olin’s Boatmen’s Bancshares Professor of Banking and Finance and Director of the Institute of Financial Studies at the Southwest University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. He was invited to the event, offering insights and ideas to the Chinese premier, by a member of China’s State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs. That body certifies foreign experts who provide expertise on the Chinese mainland.
Dybvig was flanked at the event by Peter D. Lund from the department of applied physics, New Energy Technologies Group at Aalto University in Finland (on his left) and Jean-Mark Bovet, executive senior vice president, Cirrus Pharmaceuticals Inc., who has a PhD in chemistry from the University of Michigan.
“The premier thanked the foreign experts for their service and solicited their advice on subjects such as improving research in China, speeding technological development and improving education,” Dybvig wrote to the Olin Blog after the series of meetings ending on Friday, January 17, 2020.
Dybvig said the Chinese premier—the top administrator of the government’s massive civil service bureaucracy—hosted about 60 foreign experts for the meeting. “There were a lot of smart people there, including some Nobel laureates,” he said. Some were business people, some school administrators, but most seemed to be scholars.
“The premier gave a warm welcome to the foreign experts and thanks for our contributions to China,” he said. “He also talked about Chinese plans, including a commitment to spend 4% of GDP on education even though that implies cutting spending on other things.”
“It was also fun chatting with all the other smart people in attendance,” Dybvig said. “I enjoyed learning from Gérard Mourou about the work on high-intensity short-duration lasers that lead to his Nobel Prize in physics.”
Pictured above: Olin’s Phil Dybvig (blue patterned jacket) in a screen grab from Chinese state television covering a January 2020 symposium with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang with academics working in the country.