I am very pleased that the 7th Joint International Computer Conference is being held at Shantou University this year. I have no doubt that this Conference will be a success and I take this opportunity to extend my warmest congratulations.
Some high-tech stocks have been very volatile this year. The Nasdaq has fallen by about 20% this year, with Internet stocks being hit the hardest. If you have sustained losses on high-tech stocks during this downturn, you may be wary of the development of various technologies and the financing activities of high-tech companies. Everyone was full of optimism when Internet fever was running high. Now that the market has had a major correction, we are being a bit overly pessimistic. High-tech companies without any real business plans have had their capitalization almost entirely erased. Today’s Internet fever is sometimes compared with Tulipomania of the 17th century, but there are in fact major differences. Today, there are many solid companies with good businesses that have taken advantage of unlimited growth potential and grown to secure a place in the global economy. The power of new technologies touches every industry, creating value not only for its own market, but also helping traditional businesses to develop new methods of production, operation and sales.
Over the past decade, the United States has enjoyed a prolonged period of high growth and low inflation. This phenomenon can be attributed mainly to the development of new technologies. The US places a great deal of emphasis on long-term research and development and continues to lead the world in areas such as IT and bio-tech, resulting in the longest period of expansion in American history. From 1980 to 1990, US GDP grew at an average annual rate of 2.9%. In the past five years, it has grown 3.86% per annum. So far this year, it has expanded at an annual rate of over 4%.
The use of computers is key to technological progress. In fact, computers have become an indispensable part of our daily lives; large and small businesses alike rely on computers, not to mention education, research, and even space exploration and national security. The increase in processing power will lead our future development. The popularity of the Internet has brought people and nations closer together, providing us with a broader view of the world around us and a means to relate to different peoples and different organizations, allowing us to understand each other better and to create a more peaceful world together.
Our ability to develop is differentiated by our nature, our environment, and our level of education. In today’s world, knowledge is a valuable asset just like land and capital. Knowledge is the foundation for innovation and invention; it promotes economic activity and gives us more choices and opportunities and lets us know our rights and responsibilities. In a knowledge economy, technology opens up new opportunities never before thought possible. Our people have a chance to seize upon the potential for tremendous economic growth. I am very excited and hopeful about this prospect. Young people today have a brighter future, better qualifications, and fuller lives. They should treasure all these opportunities, and take responsibility for our rich cultural traditions, humanitarian spirit and morality, and through interactivity between new technologies and traditional wisdom, work together to create a bright future for the Chinese people and improve the quality of life for mankind. Thank you very much.