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Cooperation, Pragmatism, Diligence--Hao Ping’s Speech on Peking University’s 119th Anniversary

MAY . 10 2017

Peking University May 6, 2017:
Respected guests, faculty members and students:

Today is the 119th anniversary of Peking University. First of all, I would like to greet all the students, teachers, staff and alumni, as well as to pay a tribute to the previous generation, who have made great contributions to the development of Peking University.

Half a year has passed since I came back to work in my alma mater, during which I have three points of reflection:

First of all, PKUers have a strong sense of mission. In order to make our university better, we have to understand its history and culture, and develop its tradition.

119 years ago, the Imperial University of Peking was founded when our country was at stake. “China cannot grow stronger until college education is developed.” – this was the urgent claim of the intellectuals at that time.

100 years ago, Mr. Cai Yuanpei became the president of Peking University, and put forward the idea of "Free-Thinking and All-Embracing” as the guideline. With the belief of democracy and science, Peking University became the center of the New Culture Movement, the birthplace of the May 4th Movement and the earliest front where the founders of the Communist Party, represented by Li Dazhao,  advocated Marxism – these events changed the history of China.

At this moment, I can still sense the spirit of the great predecessors on our campus. Generations of PKUers wrote the history of Peking University with their diligence, and now it is our turn – it is time for us to take the responsibility.

Secondly, Peking University is always a focus of social attention, which provides support as well as spur to us. What we should do is to transform them into great motivations of self-development.

At the National Conference of Ideology and Political Work in Colleges last December, President Xi Jinping mentioned Peking University three times and spoke highly of our tradition of patriotism, progress, democracy and science.

The attention comes not only from our party, but from the whole society – both hold high expectations on us. Besides, we are also under the limelight  in the international community, where Peking University has been deemed a significant symbol of China and Chinese culture. Hence, since PKU’s centennial, nearly a hundred state leaders have been here to give speeches.

Thirdly, during the development of the “world-class university and discipline”, we should maintain confidence and courage.

Still faced with numerous challenges, we should comprehensively deepen reforms, further develop law-based management and expand the scope of the opening-up.

I am confident with the future of Peking University. Such confidence comes from our faculty members. As the backbones of the country, the intellectuals of Peking University make great contributions to the nation through their devotion to the scientific progress and the cultivation of the students,.

Such confidence also stems from our students. These vigorous youths develop themselves in all aspects and grow up into a promising new generation of pioneers and dedicators ahead of their time so as to live up to the expectations of the country and society.

The confidence comes from our alumni. The education and cultivation of Peking University exert life-long influences upon us, which makes our alma mater an essential part of our lives. Thus, it is our indispensable duty to add luster to it.

And there is another group of friends – although they are not graduates of Peking University, they love it as we do. PKUers would always be thankful to them.

In the next stage, how can we strive forward? I summarize it in the following three words:

First, cooperation. Professor He Fangchuan, former executive vice president of Peking University, had once pointed out that PKU should “sail a big boat” for development. Peking University should open and expand its horizon, aim at a grand goal and strategy, and create profound knowledge and thoughts that could influence generations.

In order to “sail a big boat” against all oddities, we must cooperate and work together  – as the Chinese saying goes, to “cross the river peacefully together”. Peking University is our shared home. Being in the same boat, we should come together to struggle for a common goal.

Only with this spirit of solidarity can we achieve mutual trust, respect, understanding and appreciation, and coordinate relationships within various groups, making it possible for teachers and students to fully demonstrate their talents and personalities, and thus create a favorable campus environment.

Second, a pragmatic attitude; Several generations of PKU alumni have shared a same dream, that is to make Peking University a world-class university and a hall of academe for scholars and youngsters worldwide.

In order to achieve this lofty ambition, it is imperative for us to adopt a pragmatic attitude. It is a legacy handed down by generations of PKU alumni that, to pursue a dream, we must work steadily step by step. To govern a university is like the process of scholarship – we cannot have the slightest conceit or fickleness.

We should promote the good and eliminate the bad to help foster a righteous atmosphere on campus. We should construct our university in accordance with Chinese characteristics, always keep pace with national development and national rejuvenation, and acquire a full and correct understanding of Chinese society so as to better serve its citizens.

Third, diligence, vigor and perseverance; Peking University should be able to accomplish brilliant achievements in such a great age.

PKU has undergone plenty of hardships, yet during this period PKU has also created astonishing miracles in education. During the Anti-Japanese War, the National Southwestern Associated University fostered a group of world-class talents despite all the difficulties and hardships. In the 1950s and 60s, Peking University participated in the synthesis of crystalline bovine insulin; in the 1970s and 80s, Tu Youyou discovered artemisinin, and Wang Xuan developed laser typesetting systems in the Chinese language and electronic publishing systems. All these are epoch-making achievements, whose success is attributed to a resolute and enthusiastic spirit that we can never discard at any time.

We are now catching up with a period of important strategic opportunities characterized by rapid development, and we should cherish and grasp this invaluable opportunity. As the Chinese saying goes, "Good steel needs to be used for the blade’s edge”, we should invest major resources in our teachers and students – to provide reliance, dignity and happiness for the faculty members so that they can be more focused and reassured while working.

In the next stage, we should also put more efforts to improve the quality of the campus. Not only should we preserve and inherit the venerable traditions of PKU, which have survived hundreds of years, but we should also promote new ideas of development, and let the old and the new, the ancient and the modern complement each other. This is not to say that the campus should aim for luxuriousness and extravagance; rather, it should become warmer, more natural and more tranquil, and thereby provide its residents with a space for the cultivation of the mind.

Dear faculty members, students and friends:

We should stick to the five concepts for development, adhere to the four self-confidence, further enhance our political consciousness, awareness of overall situation and core issues, and the consciousness of looking to whom we can learn from. We should carry forward the spirit of cooperation, the pragmatic attitude, and the spirit of vigor and perseverance.

Through our steady and constant efforts, the dream of generations of PKU alumni is sure to be realized soon, and we will witness a brighter future for PKU!
Thank you all!

Written by: Fu Wenyun, You Danqian
Edited by: Wang Qian / Xu Liangdi
Source: PKU News (Chinese)