24 February 2001

I would like to thank the Ministry of Education for giving us the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the western regions through this whirlwind visit of eight cities in six provinces in just nine days. I deeply appreciate the warm hospitality that was accorded to us throughout our trip. I wish to take this opportunity to extend my sincere thanks once again to the Ministry of Education, all the provincial governments, all the university officials and everyone who has helped to make this trip possible.

It is difficult for people like us who have lived in the cities for most of our lives to fully appreciate the awe of nature and the harsh conditions it can sometimes conjure up. Mineral deposits are often located in remote areas. Vast arid lands are interspersed with densely populated cities. A strong feeling came over me during this trip. To overcome geographic disadvantages and lack of natural resources, fostering talented people is vital. And education is the key. When you have the human resources, you can find the best way to utilize your limited natural resources in the most efficient way. People create progress and progress leads to a better quality of life.

China’s plans to develop the western regions are very encouraging. This responsibility falls on each and every one of us. However, to pursue economic development and modernize an entire region is a difficult task. The central and provincial governments will be searching for new breakthroughs, but they will also need our concerted efforts. Only by working together will we be able to help people living in areas constrained by geographic disadvantages or a dearth of natural resources.

The west has been targeted for education and human capital development, and we are honoured to be able to collaborate with the Ministry of Education on this STAND project. Satellite Transmission Advance Network for Distance learning, as it is named, is a very innovative program that will have enormous implications for raising the quality of education in the west. This method of delivery gives underdeveloped areas equal access to information, allowing students even in remote areas to receive the best education that the country has to offer. In addition, training centres established in institutions of higher learning will give primary school teachers a chance to upgrade their skills. With the help of satellite technology, not even the highest mountain can obstruct the flow of information and knowledge. With proper access to information, people will gain a much deeper understanding of the world and develop better judgment as well as a keener sense of integrity and value.

I have worked for 60 years and have built a large, reputable business. But I have also experienced very difficult times, such as war, poverty, sickness and lack of formal education, and I understand the daunting task of surviving in tough times. Fate is not always kind, and different people will face different circumstances. There will always be ups and downs, and we can’t give up or feel depressed just because life is tough. The future is in your hands. I firmly believe that knowledge can change fate, so we must steadfastly acquire new knowledge. I had a dream last night. On our motherland, there were well-paved roads running through the desert; sufficient water and arable land in arid regions; natural resources were being utilized efficiently; comfortable living environments in densely populated areas; people of different racial backgrounds were living in peace and harmony.

I believe that if we have courage, confidence and perseverance, this dream can gradually come true. Thank you.