From Devin Dwyer (@devindwyer):
Vice President Joe Biden was praised as an "accomplished public speaker" by Chinese university students today during a Q&A session in Chengdu, China.
In response, Biden told the audience his ability to communicate clearly and sincerely hasn't been without challenges, likening his personal journey to that of Britain's King George III, whose struggle to overcome a stutter was recently profiled in "The King's Speech."
"But for the royal blood and the money, that could have been me," Biden said of the monarch.
"I was a serious stutterer when I was in school as a child, as a high school student, and even into college," he said. "And I practiced very, very hard by myself, standing in front of a mirror, trying to enunciate without contorting my face."
Biden discussed speech impediments and the stigmas they carry as examples of communication barriers that can exist between political leaders and peoples, sometimes creating unintended conflict.
"The thing that I’m most embarrassed about in my career of 38 years of having an opportunity to literally meet every major world leader in the last 38 years … is — and in the back of my head, I’m embarrassed in front of you — I’m embarrassed I can’t speak to you in Chinese," Biden confessed to his audience.
"I would — seriously — I would rather be able to honor you and show my respect for you by speaking your language, as you honor me by speaking mine," he said.
Biden said Chinese and American students who are studying to become bilingual will help bridge the language gap between the two countries and build continued goodwill.
"I have great faith in all of you," Biden told the young crowd. "The fact there’s a hundred thousand students here at this great university, the fact that there are millions of Chinese at universities throughout this country; the fact that there’s 130,000 Chinese nationals … going to American universities is the stuff which gives me faith."
– Devin Dwyer