Chinese state visit to the Niels Bohr Institute – Niels Bohr Institute - University of Copenhagen

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10 June 2013

Chinese state visit to the Niels Bohr Institute

A senior Chinese delegation with a leading member of the Chinese Politburo’s Standing Committee, Yu Zhengsheng, visited the Niels Bohr Institute Friday morning. 

The security was in place for the visit by the Chinese delegation.

Yu Zhengsheng is a member of the absolute top Chinese power elite as well as the Chairman of The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which is a very important advisory body that brings together the eight so-called ‘democratic parties’ in China. They meet annually at the same time as the National People’s Congress. He is said to be a man who does not follow fixed, organized routines, but goes his own way. This was also the experience at the Niels Bohr Institute, where a very busy schedule was arranged.

At 10:40, Yu Zhengsheng and the Chinese delegation with 19 members arrived. In addition, there were security personnel, bringing the total to 40 people.

At 10:40, Yu Zhengsheng and the Chinese delegation with 19 members arrived. In addition, there were security personnel, bringing the total to 40 people. A convoy of large cars and black limousines pulled up in front of the Niels Bohr Institute buildings on Blegdamsvej. Here they were welcomed by the Rector of the University of Copenhagen, Ralf Hemmingsen, the Dean of the Faculty of Science, John Renner Hansen and Robert Feidenhans'l, the Head of the Niels Bohr Institute. 

Here in the historical Auditorium A, the visitors heard about Niels Bohr and the institute today. The speeches were translated simultaneously by the Chinese interpreter.

Legendary history and cutting-edge research

The first place visited was the historic Auditorium A, where Niels Bohr held his lectures and met with the greatest physicists of his time.

In addition to being told about the legendary Niels Bohr and the Institute as it is today, they heard about the ice core drilling in Greenland. The ice cores that are drilled through the kilometer-thick ice sheet can tell us about the climate 130,000 years back to a time when the Earth’s climate was warmer than it is today. This knowledge can help predict what will happen in a future with global warming.

Yu Zhengsheng caught sight of a bronze relief on the exterior of the building and wanted spontaneously to hear about it. The relief is brand new and depicts the four Nobel laureates from the Niels Bohr Institute.  Dean John Renner Hansen tells the story.

Then they should have gone directly down to the laboratories, but Yu Zhengsheng caught sight of a bronze relief on the exterior of the building and wanted to hear about it. The relief is brand new and depicts the four Nobel laureates from the Niels Bohr Institute. 

Then the tour went along winding corridors down to the quantum optics laboratory in the basement, where Professor Eugene Polzik talked about the research while his PhD student Heng Shen from China translated into Chinese. The visit should have lasted about 5 minutes, but Yu Zhengsheng is en engineer by training and when Eugene Polzik asked if he had any questions after 5-6 minutes, Yu Zhengsheng answered "no, but please continue explaining”, and afterwards he had a few questions about the research. So there is no doubt he found it interesting.

Yu Zhengsheng is an engineer by training and was very interested in hearing Professor Eugene Polzik talk about the research in the quantum optics laboratory. 

Slightly delayed, the delegation left for the next visit, which was the Green Lighthouse, Denmark’s first CO2-neutral building. The round green building houses the Faculty of Science student services.

Preparations for the visit

There were weeks of preparation before the visit. Yu Zhengsheng had specifically wanted to visit the Niels Bohr Institute during his visit to Denmark and a delegation from the Chinese Embassy visited the institute to see what options there were.

On Friday morning the police had already arrived by 7:15 and sealed off the area. Dog patrols walked through the route to guard against bombs.

It is well known that the Niels Bohr Institute is spread over three addresses, each with its exciting areas of research, but there would not be time to visit them al. The delegation from the embassy came to Blegdamsvej where the saw the quantum laboratories and heard about the other research areas. The solution was that the visit would only take place at Blegdamsvej, but that they would also here about the ice core drilling in Greenland.

But the route through the old buildings along winding corridors had to be planned and checked by both the police and security staff from PET. They came several times and had to inspect all of the laboratories and adjoining rooms.

The thorough preparations contributed to the visit going exactly as it should.