Knowledge as Our Core Value

15 December 2003

Inauguration Ceremony of Science Building Peking University of Technology

15 December 2003

We congregate here today to celebrate the opening of a new building. The building itself would hardly be meaningful if not for you and future others who will pass through it in pursuit of knowledge and in your search to find yourselves.

A few years ago, someone told me that we have entered a knowledge era; to be honest with you, I was quite surprised at the statement. I thought information and knowledge have always been important in human history. The inventions and innovations of a century of scientists and diligent entrepreneur have serviced and enabled humankind to have a better life, the turbines that generate electricity, the pharmaceutical products that alleviate us from pain, and communications technology that facilitates our daily lives. If knowledge is an intrinsic part of our lives then it must be an intrinsic part of our economy; it is and will always be. We should know that, for centuries we have been telling our children, “you will find your golden house and your beautiful wife in books”, inferring that knowledge generates investment returns.

So why this renewed demarcation? And why the renewed emphasis? It must certainly be more than an accounting treatment that simply factors in intellectual capital on a balance sheet, or put value to it as a multiplier to growth. This entire new theoretical, methodological and analytical framework reshapes the attitude of society; it highlights the fact that in times of intense competition, capabilities weights more than assets, and this exerts immense pressure on an individual, there is simply no room for braggadocios and great pretenders. We are approaching a new age of synthesis, Knowledge cannot be merely a degree or a skill; it demands a broader vision, capabilities in critical thinking and logical deduction without which we cannot have constructive progress.

Each of us has to find our own way forward and to accumulate our own intellectual capital. On a national level, we need a framework to enhance innovative vitality; not only technical sophistication and its economic applications, but policies that support a strong “common innovation structure” and environment. New innovative dynamics can lead to exponential growth and greater profitability; this new paradigm calls for a new open-mindedness and a change in the core mechanism of our society.

In an article “ National Innovative Capacity”, Professor Michael Porter compiled an index reflecting national innovative rankings. Today, even though we are not high on the table, we should strive to be tomorrow; you and I can all play a part, not only to improve our productivity and prosperity but in the hope that one day, we can address social and human challenges, ours as well as the world’s.

Thank you very much.