Chinese President Hu Jintao’s Remarks at Yale University
President Richard Levin, Students, faculties, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by thanking you, Mr. Levin, for your kind invitation and the opportunity to come to Yale to meet young friends and teachers of this world-renowned university.
Coming to the Yale campus, with its distinctive academic flavor, and looking at the eager young faces in the audience, I cannot but recall my great experience studying at Tsinghua University in Beijing 40 years ago. Indeed, what happens during one’s school year will influence his whole life. I still benefit greatly from the instructions from my teachers and my interaction with other students.
Yale is renowned for its long history, unique way of teaching and excellence in academic pursuit. If time could go back several decades, I would really like to be a student of Yale just like you.
Yale’s motto “Light and Truth,” which is a calling for human progress, represents the aspiration of every motivated young man and woman. Over the past three centuries, Yale has produced a galaxy of outstanding figures, including 20 Nobel laureates and five American presidents. The words of Nathan Hale, an American hero and Yale alumnus, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country” have also inspired me and many other Chinese. I sincerely hope that Yale will produce more talent and contribute further to the social and economic development of the United States and the cause of human progress.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, the Chinese and Americans have always had an intense interest in and cared deeply about each other. The Chinese admire the pioneering and enterprising spirit of the Americans and their proud achievement in national development. As China develops rapidly and steady headway is made in China-US cooperation, more and more Americans are following with great interest China’s progress and development.
Understanding leads to trust. Today, I would like to speak to you about China's development strategy and its future against the backdrop of the evolution of the Chinese civilization and China's current development endeavor. I hope this will help you gain a better understanding of China.
In a history that spans more than five millennia, the Chinese nation has contributed significantly to the progress of human civilization. But its course of national development has been an arduous one. In particular in the 160 years and more since the Opium War in 1840, the Chinese people have fought courageously and unyieldingly to rid themselves of poverty and backwardness and to realize national rejuvenation, thus profoundly changing the destiny of the Chinese nation. Ninety-five years ago, the Chinese people launched the Revolution of 1911 that overthrew the feudal autocracy which had ruled China for several thousand years and opened the door to China’s progress.
Fifty-seven years ago, the Chinese people succeeded in winning liberation after protracted and hard struggle and founded New China in which people became their own masters. Twenty-eight years ago, the Chinese people embarked upon the historic drive of reform, opening-up and modernization and have made phenomenal progress through unremitting efforts.
Between 1978 and 2005, China’s GDP grew from $147.3 billion to $2.2257 trillion. Its import and export volume went up from $20.6 billion to $1.4221 trillion and its foreign exchange reserve soared from $167 million to $818.9 billion. During this period, the number of its poor rural population dropped from 250 million to 23 million. The above review of the profound changes in these 160 years shows one thing, namely, by carrying out persistent and hard struggle, the Chinese people have both changed their own destiny and advanced the cause of human progress.
On the other hand, I need to point out that, despite the success in its development, China remains the world’s largest developing country, with per capita GDP ranking behind the 100th place.The Chinese people are yet to live a well-off life and China still faces daunting challenges in its development endeavor. Therefore it requires sustained and unremitting efforts to transform the country and make life better for its people. In the next 15 years, we will strive to make new progress in building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way that will benefit China’s one billion and more population.
We aim to raise China’s GDP to $4 trillion by 2020, averaging $3,000 per person. By then, China’s economy will be better developed and its democracy will be further enhanced. More progress will be made in science and education. Its culture will be further enriched, the society will become more harmonious and the people will lead a better life.
To realize these goals, China has adopted a new concept of development in line with its national conditions and the requirement of the times. That is, to pursue a scientific outlook on development that makes economic and social development people-oriented, comprehensive, balanced and sustainable. We will work to strike a proper balance between urban and rural development, development among regions, economic and social development, development of man and nature, and domestic development and opening wider to the outside world. Greater emphasis will be put on addressing issues affecting people’s livelihood, overcoming imbalances in development and resolving key problems that have occurred in the course of development. We will pursue a new path to industrialization featuring high technology, good economic returns, low resource-consumption, low environment pollution and full use of human resources. We will bring about coordinated economic, political, cultural and social development. And we will endeavor to ensure sustainable development by boosting production, improving people’s life and protecting the environment.
This concept of scientific development is based on the experience China has gained in its modernization drive and put forth in response to the trends of the times. It is also rooted in the cultural heritages of the Chinese nation.
The Chinese civilization is one that has continued uninterrupted for more than 5,000 years. The distinct cultural tradition of the Chinese nation that developed in the long course of history has exerted a strong influence on contemporary China, just as it did on ancient China. Putting people first, keeping pace with the times, maintaining social harmony and pursuing peaceful development: these values that are being pursued in China today are derived from its tradition. But they also give expression to the progress of the times.
The Chinese civilization has always given prominence to the people and respect for people's dignity and value. Centuries ago, the Chinese already pointed out that “people are the foundation of a country; when the foundation is stable, the country is in peace.” Nothing is more valuable in the universe than human beings. The ancient Chinese emphasized the value of serving the people, enriching them, nourishing them, and benefiting them. We are pursuing today a people-oriented approach toward development because we believe that development must be for the people and by
the people and its benefit should be shared among the people.
We care about people’s value, rights and interests and freedom, the quality of their life, and their development potential and happiness index because our goal is to realize the all-around development of the people. Ensuring the right to survival and development remains China’s top priority. We will vigorously promote social and economic development, protect people’ freedom, democracy and human rights according to law, achieve social fairness and justice and enable the 1.3 billion Chinese people to live a happy life.
The Chinese civilization has always given prominence to unremitting self-improvement, reform and innovation. As an ancient Chinese motto puts it, “As Heaven keeps vigor through movement, a gentleman should unremittingly practice self-improvement.” Throughout its 5,000-year history, it is thanks to their perseverance, determination, stamina and innovation that the Chinese nation has grown after surviving numerous setbacks and adversity. The Chinese people have shown enterprising spirit and reform and opening-up creativity in national development and great tenacity in overcoming difficulties on the road to progress. And all this gives expression to the spirit of unremitting self-improvement embodied in China’s cultural tradition.
The Chinese civilization has always given prominence to social harmony, unity and mutual assistance. Back in the early days of the Chinese nation, the Chinese already advocated that “harmony is most valuable”. They strove for harmony between man and nature, among people and
between man’s body and soul, and yearned for an ideal society where “everyone loves everyone else, everyone is equal and the whole world is one community.”
Today, China is endeavoring to build a harmonious society. It is a society of democracy and rule of law, fairness and justice, integrity, fraternity, vitality, stability, order and harmony between man and nature. It is a society where there is unity between the material and the spirit, democracy and rule of law, fairness and efficiency, and vitality and order.
The Chinese people takes the maintenance of ethnic unity and harmony as their bounden duty and the defense of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity their sacred mission.
Any act that promoted ethnic harmony and national unity will receive the warm welcome and support of the Chinese people. On the other hand, any act that undermines China’s ethnic harmony and national unity will meet their strong opposition and resistance.
The Chinese civilization has always given prominence to good neighborliness. The Chinese nation cherishes peace. In foreign relations, the Chinese have always believed that “the strong should not oppress the weak and the rich should not bully the poor” and advocated that “all nations live side by side in perfect harmony”.
The Chinese held that “one should be as inclusive as the ocean, which is vast because it admits hundreds of river” and called for drawing upon the strength of others. Today, China holds high the banner of peace, development and cooperation. It pursues an independent foreign policy of peace and commits itself firmly to peaceful development.
It seeks to accelerate its development by upholding world peace. The world peace is, in turn, enhanced by China’s development. China firmly pursues a strategy of opening-up for mutual benefit and win-win outcomes. It genuinely wishes to enter into extensive cooperation with other countries.
It is inclusive and is eager to draw on the strength of other civilizations to pursue peace and development through cooperation and play its part in building a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, China and the United States are both countries of vast territory where many ethnic groups coexist and different cultures intermingle. Both our two peoples are hard-working and talented. Due to different historical backgrounds and national conditions, there are differences between China and the United States. But this enables us to learn from each other and draw on each other’s strengths. Closer China-US cooperation serves the fundamental interests of our two countries and peoples and is also of far-reaching significance for peace and development of the whole world.
Vast as it is, the Pacific Ocean has not stood in the way of exchanges and cooperation between our two peoples over the past 200 years, and many moving episodes of mutual learning and mutual help between our two peoples who represent different civilizations have been recorded. In the 27 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979, China-US relations have maintained steady momentum of growth despite twists and turns on the way, bringing tremendous benefits to both countries and peoples.
Entering the 21st century, the world has continued to undergo profound changes. Peace and development remain the calling of our times. On the other hand, factors causing instability and uncertainty are increasing and new challenges and threats are looming. Against this backdrop, the common interests between our two countries are increasing and the areas of our cooperation widening. Global peace and security now face new challenges, such as fighting international terrorism, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, protecting the environment and human habitat and combating transnational crimes. And it is exactly in these fields that we share important strategic interests. China has a huge market and its development has generated strong demand, while the United States has advanced technology and high quality products. This has created enormous opportunities for economic and technical cooperation between our two countries.
Indeed, there is a broad prospect for the growth of constructive and cooperative China-US relations in all fields.
Yesterday morning, President Bush and I had an in-depth exchange of views on China-US relations and major international and regional issues of common interest and reached broad and important agreement. We are both of the view that the two sides should approach our relations from the strategic and long-term perspective and that we should enhance dialogue, expand common ground, increase mutual trust, deepen cooperation and promote the overall growth of the constructive and cooperative China-US relations in the 21st century.
When we focus on the overall interest of China-US relations, respect and show understanding to each other, I am confident that our relations will move ahead in a sound and steady manner, and contribute to the well-being of our two peoples and bring greater hope to people around the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, a composer cannot write enchanting melody with just one note, and a painter cannot paint landscape with only one color. The world is a treasure house where the unique cultural achievements created by people of all countries are displayed. The culture of a nation tells a lot about the evolution of the nation’s understanding of the world and life, both past and present. Culture thus embodies a nation’s fundamental pursuit of mind and dictates its norms of behavior. The historical process of human development is one in which different civilizations interact with and enrich each other and all civilizations in human history have contributed to human progress in their own unique way.
Cultural diversity is a basic feature of both human society and today’s world and an important driving force for human progress. As history has shown, in the course of interactions between civilizations, we not only need to remove natural barriers and overcome physical isolation, we also need to remove obstacles and obstructions of the mind and overcome various prejudices and misunderstandings. Differences in ideology, social system and development model should not stand in the way of exchanges among civilizations, still less should they become excuses for mutual confrontation. We should uphold the diversity of the world, enhance dialog and interaction between civilizations, and draw on each other’s strength instead of practicing mutual exclusion. When this is done, mankind will enjoy greater harmony and happiness and the world will become a more colorful place to live in.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, exchanges in culture and education and among young people serve as a bridge for increasing mutual understanding between our two peoples. They are also a major driving force for the sound and stable growth of China-US relations. Yale is a forerunner in conducting China-US educational exchanges and provides an important platform for cultural exchanges between our two countries. One hundred and fifty-six years ago, a Chinese young man named Rong Hong entered Yale Campus. Four years later, he graduated with distinction and received a bachelor of arts degree, making him the first ever Chinese graduate of an American university.
Later, group after group of young Chinese followed his footsteps and studied in Yale. Over the past 20 years, Yale has accepted over 4,000 Chinese students and undertaken more than 80 cooperation projects in culture, science and technology, and education with China. Last summer, Yale sent the first group of students to China for internships and some among them became the first foreign interns to work with China’s Palace Museum. I wish to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to you, Mr. Levin, and Yale for the efforts you have made to promote exchanges between our two peoples.
To enhance mutual understanding between young people and educators of the two countries, I announce with pleasure here that we have decided to invite 100 Yale faculty members and students to visit China this summer. I’m sure you can look forward to an enjoyable experience in China.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, as an old Chinese saying goes:”As in the Yangtze River where the waves behind drive on those before, so a new generation always excels the last one.”
Young people represent the hope and future of the world. They are full of vitality, new ideas and creativity. I sincerely hope that the young people in China and the United States will join hands and work to enhance friendship between our two peoples, and, together with people of other countries, create a better world for all. Thank you!