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Seeing China Through the "DREAM"
2019-08-22 21:04

21st August 2019

Dear students and parents,


Hello everyone! Welcome to the Chinese Embassy in Belgium. I am very happy to join so many Belgian young students at the Embassy on the cusp of their departure for China in pursuit of further studies. China is very far away and may be unfamiliar to many of you. I believe you have chosen to study in China not only because of curiosity, but also because that you have a dream, one that may affect the trajectory of your life. Today I would like to use five key words with the initials making up the word "DREAM" to introduce China.

The first keyword is D (Diversity). China boasts rich and profound culture. China is the only one of the four ancient civilizations that has been uninterrupted and has continued to this day. The Chinese civilization has thrived because it is inclusive and assimilates different cultures. The 56 ethnic groups in China, through long-term exchanges and integration, all live together in harmony, forming a diverse treasure house of Chinese culture. In 2019, China's total number of world cultural heritage sites reached 55, ranking first in the world. When you go to China, you can see many magnificent Buddhist temples. Buddhism is representative of foreign culture introduced to China. After being introduced from India, Buddhism blended with the Chinese Confucianism and Taoism, forming a harmonious symbiosis. From the 7th to the 9th centuries AD, when Europe was still shrouded in the darkness of the medieval times, Chang'an, the capital of the Tang Dynasty of China, had become arguably the "world capital". Chinese cuisine is also an important constituent of the Chinese culture. In China, there are eight types of cuisine, each typical of one specific region of the country. The food, using locally sourced ingredients and special cooking methods, have been loved by people around the world. At the same time, we must also see that with the acceleration of economic globalization and modernization, China's cultural diversity is also under threat. European countries started early in preserving their cultural heritage. Europe has sound legislation and best practices that China can borrow from. China and Belgium could strengthen exchanges and cooperation in this respect.

The second keyword is R (Reform). Reform and opening up have become a steady force driving China's economic development. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. You may not know that 70 years ago, China was a disintegrated and impoverished country. The poverty rate was as high as 97.5%. More than 80% of the country's population was illiterate. In 1978, China implemented reform and opening up and the economy developed rapidly. From 1979 to 2018, China's economy grew at an average annual rate of 9.45%, in the process becoming the second largest economy in the world and lifting over 700 million people out of poverty. China has advantages embedded in our political system. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the country makes continuous efforts towards clear-cut goals. Policy consistency is ensured. The system enables us to move on to the next goal upon reaching an old one, and allows us to concentrate on most important tasks. Since the founding of the country, China has always made plans for our future development. Back then we formulated the first "five-year plan" for national economic and social development. Up to now, we have issued 13 five-year plans, and most of the targets have been met efficiently. China has world acclaimed infrastructure construction capabilities. Many of the world's most difficult and record-breaking bridges are built by China. The newly completed Beijing Daxing International Airport has been hailed as a magical and futuristic airport, and it took only three years to complete. The Chinese economy is also facing problems such as regional disparity, aging, and industrial overcapacity. Shanghai's per capita GDP has exceeded 20,000 US dollars, while that of Gansu Province is less than 5,000. The number of elderly people aged 65 and over in China accounts for nearly 10% of the total population, far exceeding the UN's aging threshold of 7%. In order to overcome these challenges, China has accelerated the pace of reform, deepened supply-side structural reform, bid farewell to high pollution and energy-intensive conventional sectors, and is shifting gear from high-speed to high-quality development.

The third keyword is E (Efficiency). Pragmatism and high efficiency is a major feature of the Chinese people. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, China implements socialism with Chinese characteristics, which is different from capitalism. China has the largest population in the world. It has the most complicated national conditions and large regional differences. To maintain stability and development for a long time, we must employ the most effective political system that is in the interest of our people. Socialism with Chinese characteristics is the path blazed by the Chinese people after long-term exploration and one that best fits China's national conditions. The Chinese-style democracy is actually a kind of consultative democracy. Major decisions are made not only after internal discussion within the party, but also after soliciting opinions from all democratic parties and different sectors of the society, a model that minimizes internal frictions and truly realizes people's democracy. China's development has benefited not only from the efficient decision-making of the party and the government, but also the efficacy of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics. China does not want to fight the China-US trade war, but it is not afraid either. Our confidence and courage takes root in China's economic resilience and the advantages of our political system. Just like there are no two identical leaves in the world, there are no political models that are exactly the same. I believe that after you stay in China for some time, you will find out that the political theories, paths, systems, and cultures with Chinese characteristics are very applicable and effective, just like shoes and feet that are perfectly fit together.

The fourth keyword is A (Active). China is an active participant and contributor on the world stage. Over the past 70 years, China's diplomacy has focused on independence, peace, development, and win-win cooperation. China advocates equality among all countries, and opposes the strong bullying the weak. Belgium has a population of only 1/122 that of China, but China has always regarded Belgium as an equal partner. Be it in the past when we were poor or in the present when China is economically better off, China will continue to provide assistance to developing countries. China is also actively providing international public goods within its capabilities. China is the second largest donor of UN peacekeeping funds and the largest contributor of peacekeeping forces among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The Belt and Road Initiative put forward by President Xi Jinping has established a new international platform for promoting common development, and more than 100 countries have already gotten on board. "When the wind starts to blow, some people build high walls and others windmills." At a time of rising instability and uncertainty, in the face of common challenges faced by mankind, some country is threatening to sabotage the principles of international law and the spirit of multilateralism, and even provoked trade wars. Such practice serves no one's interests and is doomed to failure. President Xi Jinping, on the other hand, proposed the establishment of a community with a shared future for mankind, which advocates multilateralism, international equality and justice, pointing a new path for human development and progress. Some people regard China as a threat because China is a big country and is growing fast. What I want to emphasize is that the purpose of China's development is not to seek hegemony or to out-compete others. The ultimate goal for China's development is to deliver better lives for its people, which is also in line with the governing philosophy of the Communist Party of China. The Chinese threat theory is unfounded, as the urge for external expansion is simply not in our DNA.

The fifth keyword is M (Master). Masters' cultivation is inseparable from education. The Chinese culture values education and emphasizes respect for teachers. You may have chosen to study in China for different reasons, but I believe you have made the right choice. China attaches great importance to education since ancient times. More than 2,600 years ago, Confucius proposed education theories such as "teaching without discrimination" and "teaching students in accordance with their aptitude". China's imperial examination, which continued for millennial, is arguably the fairest civil service examination in the ancient world and is the prototype of the modern academic tests. In recent years, China's higher education has made great progress. In the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, 11 universities in China have entered the top 100; Computer, civil engineering and artificial intelligence and other majors are ranked among the top of the world. In the QS Graduate Employability Ranking, five Chinese universities rank among the top 50. Chinese universities also have more international students than before. In 2017, a total of 489,200 foreign students studied in Chinese universities, and the growth rate has remained above 10% for two consecutive years. China has become the most popular Asian destination for overseas students. As China becomes the world's innovation center, and with the Belt and Road Initiative being steadily advanced, foreign trade, cooperation and personnel exchanges between China and other countries will continue to increase, giving international talents who speak Chinese and understand China an edge in the job market.

In 2012, President Xi Jinping proposed the "Chinese Dream". The "Chinese Dream" is a dream of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefits. It resonates with the beautiful dreams of people of all countries in the world including Belgium. I am very happy to use the theme of "DREAM" today to give you a sketch of what China is like. I believe that when you are in China, you will use your own eyes to discover the vast and beautiful country and the warm and friendly Chinese people, while sharing the culture and ideas best representing Belgium with your Chinese peers. I hope that what I said today will help you know some first things about China. When you return to Belgium, at least some of you will say, I fell in love with China!

Thank you.

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