An Open Academy, a Civilization for All

02 November 1995

I am very happy to be here again today. This is my third visit to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The first two times were very memorable. Many of the students had asked to have their pictures taken with me, and I can still recall their enthusiasm and radiant smiles. Today, I am very pleased and honored to be here to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Social Sciences Degree conferred upon me by the University, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude.

Rapidly Establishing a Firm Foundation and Excellent Reputation

The people I most admire are those who devote their lives to education. The first meeting of the University’s planning committee was held in September 1986. Then in August 1991, the University’s first phase was completed and the first group of students was admitted. In just a few short years, the University has already established itself as an internationally renowned institute of higher education. This is an extremely rare accomplishment since, traditionally, it takes a new university many years to establish its academic reputation. This rapid achievement is most admirable and I’m sure everyone here at the University is very proud of it. Under the leadership of Sir S.Y., the University Council is able to provide the University with valuable guidance. In June this year, the Research Grants Committee announced in a grants report that the University of Science and Technology had been granted the highest number of projects, and had also received the most research funding among all the universities in Hong Kong. These various achievements can be attributed to the devoted efforts of an internationally distinguished faculty, as well as President Woo’s outstanding leadership and dedication in furthering the University’s interests and raising its profile both locally and overseas to establish a firm foundation and good reputation. I wish to express my highest regard to the leadership of the university, which is leading the school towards a better, brighter future.

Integrating New Technology into the Economy

Hong Kong’s robust economy and rapid development are dependent on its free economy and low taxation policy as well as our industry professionals, hard working attitude and ability to adapt. During these final years of the transitional period, an era dominated by technology has begun. As the manufacturing and other labour-intensive industries continue to shift their operations to the mainland, Hong Kong has transformed into an economy primarily based on trade and services. To face the new challenges that lie ahead, we need to make use of new technology and efficient international corporate management. As Hong Kong reverts to the mainland, whose economic reforms are continuing, the link between the two economies will grower stronger. Hong Kong, with the strong backing of the mainland, will be in a strong position to take advantage of economic opportunities which will greatly increase the demand for a quality work force. Compared with the mainland, Hong Kong academic institutions have had longer contact and more frequent exchanges with their Western counterparts. In this respect, the University can take advantage of many more opportunities to benefit from Western scientific research and improve upon it further. The Hong Kong economy, in its transitional stage, should rely more heavily on the development and utilization of technology. Naturally, the University’s contribution to this development will take on a very important role.

Chinese Scientific Achievements

During the 20th century, outstanding scientists of Chinese descent have continually emerged, proving that the Chinese have much to be proud of in our scientific ability and achievements. Speaking at the First International Chinese Physics Conference at Shantou University, world-renowned physicist and Nobel prize winner Dr. Lee Tsung-dao said that the next century would see the Chinese making major scientific contributions to humankind. He also envisioned China as a world leader in scientific research in the 21st century. I have absolute confidence in China’s scientific achievements in the future.

History’s Calling

As we enter the 21st century, the University of Science and Technology will be a leading-edge institution with an emphasis on the sciences, engineering and management. The University has always kept in close contact with the outside world to ensure that it keeps abreast of the latest ideas and trends. This close exchange will be vital in maintaining our competitiveness and further economic expansion in the future. For Hong Kong, as well as the entire Chinese race to be strong, technological advancement and human capital are extremely important factors. Advanced technology not only affects the quality of life, but also affects a country’s fate in a fundamental way.

Students of the University, your future achievements could play a significant role in leading the Chinese onto the world scientific stage. Your futures are bright as you face this historic handover period. Let’s hope that you can develop to your full potential, take up this important mission, and contribute your knowledge to society for the benefit of Hong Kong, China, and humanity. Seeking knowledge is not a guarantee of fame and fortune, but it is one of the ways in which you can contribute to society and to mankind, and nurture an indomitable spirit to seek out the truth. Work hard today, and you can enjoy the fruits of your labour tomorrow.

Receiving this honor today is truly an unforgettable experience. I hope the University can maintain its present rapid rate of progress, and that it will become one of the world’s most reputable Universities within the shortest possible time.