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The Chinese Dream, for Happiness and Peace


Speech by Madame Li Xiaolin, President of the CPAFFC,
At Yonsei University, Seoul
( 24 July, 2013 )

Respected President of Yonsei University Mr. Jeong Kap-Young,
Respected President of Korea-China Friendship Association Mr. Pak San Koo,
Dear Professors and Students of Yonsei University,

It’s a great pleasure for me today to share with you the idea of the Chinese dream. I had many dreams before, but I have never dreamed of having such an honor to make a speech at Yonsei University, the highest institute of learning in the Republic of Korea. I would like to extend my gratitude to President Jeong Kap-Young, President Pak Sam Koo and the Board of Yonsei University for inviting me and giving me such a joy and favor.

To my knowledge, Yonsei University, founded in 1885, is the university with the longest history in Korea. As a Chinese saying goes: “It takes ten years to grow a tree, but a hundred to cultivate people.” The cultivation of talents really takes a longer and more arduous road. It’s precisely owing to its over a hundred years of tradition and its unchanged spirit of upholding “truth and freedom”, that Yonsei University has cultivated so many outstanding personnel for Korea as well as for humankind.  Education is the foundation for the progress of a nation. Just because it has such outstanding schools as Yonsei University, the Republic of Korea has achieved its development today. 

I heard that the students of Yonsei University are well known for their active thinking. As soon as I entered its campus, I could feel a spirit of youth everywhere, which forms a sharp contrast with its time-honored buildings. I am amazed by such a perfect combination of tradition and modern trends. Whether in the past or at present, to many people, university is the cradle of dreams, a place where dreams start.

Just like the young people in your country, the Chinese young people also cherish the dream of studying at a famous university.  I heard that many parents in Korea burn incense and pray for their children when they take university entrance exams.  It’s the same in China. Famous universities such as Peking University and Tsinghua University are the most desired aims for a great many young students in China. To this end, Chinese parents have to make meticulous plans for their children’s future from the time when they enter primary schools or even kindergartens. 

After entering university, the next dream of the Chinese students is mostly to get a satisfactory job after graduation. In China, such a job has different standards in different historical periods. In the early days of new China, an ideal job was to become a worker, a soldier or a public servant, because it could provide a basic guarantee for the living of a family. However, since China introduced the policy of reform and opening up, market economy has developed, and the income from jobs in enterprises or financial trades became higher. So many people gave up the jobs provided by the state and went in for business and trade. As at that time people were still quite unfamiliar with those jobs, we called such adventures as “plunging into the sea”. Now, with the rapid development of Chinese economy, the choice for jobs for the Chinese has become more diversified. I heard that many Korean girl students want to marry doctors, lawyers or court judges in the future; I would like to ask the boy students present here: do you also hope to marry a girl at this university or EWHA University across the road? Just like you, the Chinese young people also dream of having a good job, a happy family and living a happy life. And this is just the simple Chinese dream of the Chinese people.

When I was young, I wanted to become a doctor. My father, who was President of China, said to me: “ Doctors have to face patients with painful expressions everyday. I hope you will work for people-to-people diplomacy to make friends from all countries.  Then your life will be filled with sunshine everyday.” I accepted my father’s advice and entered the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) after my graduation from Wuhan University. The CPAFFC is the largest national organization engaged in people-to-people diplomacy since new China was founded. The purposes of the Association are Friendship, Cooperation, Peace and Development, which, I believe, are also the common aspirations of the people of the world. Therefore, our work enjoys extensive support from the people of various countries. Up to now, the Association has established relations of friendship and cooperation with over 500 NGOs in more than 150 countries in the world. By conducting friendly exchanges, we have made contributions in promoting the mutual understanding and friendship between states as well as peoples. I have worked with the Association for 38 years, and I made friends from various countries from state leaders to ordinary people. Just as my father predicted, this job has filled my life with sunshine everyday. To me, it’s not only a job; actually, to help Chinese people know the world and the world understand China has become a cause, a mission, and a part of my life. 

Thanks to this job, I have visited over 70 countries in the world and found that people in every country share the same basic dream, that is, to live a happy life. Now, the Chinese people are all talking about the Chinese dream. Whether rich or poor, healthy or sick, in cities or rural areas, every person has the right to seek his (or her) own dream. To have a dream is to have a hope.

To my understanding, the Chinese dream means to realize a strong and prosperous country, the rejuvenation of the nation and the well-being of the people.  The Chinese Government pays great attention to overall development in the fields of economy, politics, social, cultural and ecological civilization.  Although China’s GDP in 2012 reached 7.5 trillion US dollars, the annual average income was only 5000 US dollars per capita, ranked after 80th in the world.  At the national level, the Chinese dream sets the goal to double by 2020, reaching 15 trillion US dollars, with average income of 10,000 US dollars per capita.  Recent statistics show the average income of 20,000 US dollars for Koreans, higher than those for Chinese. Needless to say, China has a long way to go.  China can’t reach the goal or realize the Chinese dream without the support of the world. 

In fact, we have close cooperation with our Korean counterparts in this regard.

Since 2009 when our Association and the Korea Foundation jointly initiated the youth exchange program, more than 2,000 outstanding young people visited each other’s country in the past four years. Seeing is believing. For these young people, their personal experience of the true China and the true Korea will be a great treasure in their life. I hereby warmly invite students present here to visit China and be guests of our Association.

In our work, we give priority to the disadvantaged group of youth as they are also entitled to realize dreams and in a greater need for fair competition.

I still remember my last visit to Korea in 2009, when I led a group of orphans who lost their parents and relatives in the devastating earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan province in 2008. The then Korean President Lee Myung Bak held a warm and heart-moving party at the Blue House, serving Korean cookies and encouraging the orphans to live on healthy and sound. In 2010, we in return invited Korean orphans to visit Zhongnanhai and all had a good time together with the then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Such encouragement and support from abroad deeply rooted in the orphans’ hearts and became spiritual power inspiring them to realize dreams.

With the help of Mr. Pak Sam Koo who also graduated from Yonsei University, we set up the “Future Belongs to Children” Foundation last year, providing assistance to children mentally retarded but gifted for arts. We brought their works here today so that more people can appreciate their artistic talent. We also set up “Harmony Foundation” with CJ Corporation, helping children of Chinese migrant workers to cultivate their artistic talent.

During my current visit to Korea, together with Mr. Chang Wonkie,President & CEO of Greater China Samsung Group, also a graduate from Yonsei University, we will jointly establish the R.O.K-China Entrepreneurship foundation for University Students, which will support the two countries’ young people to realize their dreams by starting their own business.

We also give support to the young people in other parts of the world. For example, we sent stationeries to children in Africa and conducted free operations for cataract patients in underdeveloped countries. In DPRK, a young girl saw the light for the first time in her life after a cataract operation, and the first person she saw was a Chinese doctor; and that day was just her 18th birthday.

Dear students, all men and women have the desire and right to realize their dreams. What we shall do is to extend our hands and give our love to those in need.  Although our strength is limited, we hope this kind of cross-border activities would make more people understand gratefulness, mutual assistance and friendship in realizing dreams. And I believe such activities will bring the hearts of all peoples closer

The Chinese people are happy today, because they not only have dreams, but also the conditions to realize their dreams. Many things which we even did not dare to dream of in the past have now come true. The Chinese people are fully aware that only when China is developed will their own dreams be realized.  The Chinese people also gradually understand that they share the same dream of seeking happiness with the people in the rest of the world, and that only when the world achieves common development, will the Chinese dream come true.

Last month Korean President Park Geun-hye visited China. In her speech at Tsinghua University, she mentioned that the Korean dream and the Chinese dream are connected. And she said: “ Just like the rivers in Korea and China flow into the same sea, the Korean and the Chinese dreams are combined as a whole. At present, the China-ROK relationship is at its best period of development in history; and it’s the time that has closely linked our dreams together. We both have a dream of happiness, as people who experienced poverty and backwardness desire to live a happy life more eagerly; we both have a dream of reunification, as people suffering from the split of a nation desire reunification more ardently; we both have a dream of peace, as people who experienced the pains of war desire world peace more earnestly.

The dream of peace is also the dream of the world.  American scholar Samuel Huntington put forward the idea of “Clash of Civilizations” in the 1990s; while China advocated the concept of “harmonious world” in the 21st century.  The current situation tells us that harmonious world is still only an ideal, while clash of civilizations is a bare fact. But we Chinese have the opinion that there is always a gap between dream and reality; and it’s just by constantly surpassing the reality for ideal goals that humankind has gained the driving force for progress. To transcend civilization differences and join hands to work together is the only choice for us to realize our dreams.

The Chinese dream is also the dream of the world. Let us work together for our common dream.

Thank you!

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