Great Work Begins With Big Hearts

08 February 1990

It is a tremendous honour to welcome you here today to commemorate a very special and memorable occasion-the opening of Shantou University.

When Shantou University was still in its planning stages, we were grateful to have the support of the Central, Provincial and Municipal Governments as well as the contributions of everyone involved, which enabled us to lay down a solid foundation. The guidance and advice offered by the Ministry of Education have also been instrumental to our success. I take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who has made a contribution in any way great or small.

The importance of education to national welfare is well documented in world history. If students can be compared to seeds, then a university offers the rich soil, the curricula and learning environment provide the sunshine and the rain, and the teachers are gardeners who tend to the seeds and help them grow into strong, healthy plants. Many different factors act upon each other to determine whether the seeds can sprout and grow healthily. Education can help instill in our youth a sense of patriotism, a healthy mindset, a wealth of knowledge, and a correct set of values. This in effect improves the quality of our people and strengthens our nation. Conversely, the failure of education often precedes the downturn of a nation. When a country can no longer draw on its talents, any talk of revival is moot. When I set out to establish Shantou University, one of my goals was to help our nation prosper through the development of education.

It is said that Education is a Hundred-Year Plan. I take this to mean that education should be developed over a long period of time. Citing examples of renowned universities with a long-standing history, people often say that it takes one hundred or so years to develop a top-tier university. But this is not practical. In this industrial age, technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, and society is also progressing at a very rapid pace. These traditional concepts should be abandoned. At a time when our country is making great economic strides and demand for human capital is increasingly keen, every university student has a responsibility to contribute to society. If higher education cannot fulfil this function, then all meaning would be lost. Shantou University is not only committed to producing high quality graduates, we will spare no effort to speed up our development to achieve maximum results in the shortest possible time.

History has shown us again and again that a positive, progressive attitude yields the best results. With a history of just a little over 200 years, the US economy has overtaken many European countries with a much longer history. Japan was devastated after the Second World War, but it was able to reinvent itself and its development has now surpassed many older countries. Germany, having lost two world wars, has also recovered rapidly. It all goes to show that if there is a will, there is a way. Since our founding four years ago, Shantou University’s graduates have proven themselves to be of great value to society. I hope that all of us can work together to develop Shantou University into one of the major universities in China.

The students in attendance today are Shantou University’s precious seeds. As they grow and mature, they will receive guidance and acquire knowledge that will prepare them to play important roles in society. I hope that with Government leadership and faculty support, Shantou University can cultivate more and more of these seeds into strong, healthy plants.

To contribute to our country through the development of education-that, to me, is the purpose and meaning of Shantou University. Education is the key to national prosperity. I hope that education will blossom all over the land and create a great future for our nation.