HYDE PARK — Two years out of office, former Mayor Richard M. Daley is still grappling with Chicago's reputation for violence, even in faraway China.
Daley was at the University of Chicago Tuesday to congratulate a group of 30 U. of C. students going to study green technology in China.
The former mayor is a frequent visitor to the country of 1.3 billion people. He advises American companies to set up shop in China, works with foundations on U.S.-China trade relations and is often able to get in a couple rounds of golf.
He said the golf courses in China are beautiful.
When off the course, Daley said he is often asked by Chinese citizens about Chicago's reputation for gun violence.
“They don’t have the relationship with guns America has,” Daley told DNAinfo.com Chicago during a one-on-one interview, adding that it is much more difficult to purchase a gun in China.
“They wonder why Americans are arming themselves,” Daley said. “I wonder why myself.”
Daley said he is staying out of the negotiations over new gun control legislation and is focusing on his role on Coca-Cola's board of directors and teaching a class at the University of Chicago when he's stateside.
Daley said he thinks many of the people he has met in China have a realistic view of Chicago and the United States because so many have been to the U.S. to study.
He hopes more American students will travel to China to study through the University of Chicago partnership with the Wanxiang America Corporation, a Chinese green technology manufacturer.
Daley said a broader conversation about green technology between America and China could benefit the Asian country struggling with pollution.
“You’d think they would have learned from the American and European industrial revolutions, but they’re making the same mistakes,” Daley said.
Thirty U. of C. undergraduates will go to China to work with green tech companies and apprentice under Chinese executives.
“It’s not a summer vacation or sightseeing tour,” said Pin Ni, president of Wanxiang America. “Our goal is to make this program meaningful and long-lasting.”