Remarks by H.E. Ren Yisheng, Chinese Ambassador to Liberia, at the Symposium on Chinese language education in West Africa held by the Confucius Institute at the University of Liberia in collaboration with the Chinese Embassy in Liberia
Honorable Dr. Julius J. S. Nelson, Jr., President of the University of Liberia,
Hon. Kwame O. Weeks, Director General of Liberia News Agency,
Madam Yaba Thompson, Assistant Minister for International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Distinguished participants from Liberia, Ghana, Benin, Nigeria and Sierra Leone,
Friends from the Liberian media and relevant friendship institutions,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to join you on line at the Symposium on Chinese education in West Africa. Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has been ravaging the world since its outbreak. Countries around the world have been tiding over the difficulties together, supporting and sticking with each other through thick and thin. The pandemic has brought us closer and made us stronger. It has also enabled us to realize that mankind is a community with a shared future, and that regardless of nationality, race, skin color or language, the world is one big family.
That is why China advocates for building a shared future of common destiny for the mankind, and hold high the banner of peaceful development and win-win cooperation. To that end, Chinese language acquisition has a special and significant role to play in the following three aspects:
First, gather support for world peace.
On the stone wall in front of the UNESCO headquarters is the inscription of one single message in several languages: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” Peace and benevolence are traditional values that are deeply rooted in the heart of the Chinese people. The Chinese language is a key that opens the door to understanding these values, such as Confucius teaching of “harmony without uniformity”.
On January 25, 2021, President Xi Jinping highlighted in his speech delivered at the World Economic Forum’s “Davos Agenda” Dialogue, that “The beauty of harmony lies in the difference.” The diversity of human civilization is the basic feature of the world and the source of human progress. There are more than 200 countries and regions, more than 2,500 nationalities and religions in the world. Different history and national conditions, different nationalities and customs have bred different civilizations and made the world more colorful.
The Chinese people believe that all countries should jump out of the small circle and zero-sum game thinking, establish the concept of big family and win-win cooperation, abandon ideological arguments, cross the trap of clash of civilizations, and respect each other’s development path independently chosen by each country. This is the constructive way of achieving and maintaining world peace.
I hope that with your mastery of the Chinese language and culture, you will become supporters for open and inclusive values as well as builders of peace in a world that is undergoing changes unseen in a century.
Second, pave the way for mutual assistance and win-win cooperation.
China and Liberia are good friends and good partners. We have had fruitful cooperation in tackling the COVID-19 outbreak, coordinating policies, sharing experience, and providing medical supplies. The empathy and support between the peoples of our two countries are especially heartwarming.
As China and Liberia join forces to control COVID-19, our joint push for economic recovery and pragmatic cooperation are making steady progress and yielding new outcomes. China is willing to take the 8th Ministerial Conference of FOCAC as an opportunity to work with Liberia to actively implement the outcomes of the FOCAC, continue to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation, and make joint efforts to build a community with a shared future. In this regard, talented young people who are fluent in both Chinese and English can make significant contribution.
As is known, the Belt and Road Initiative aims at win-win results and common prosperity, this can be achieved through strengthening connectivity in infrastructure, and through connectivity of people’s hearts as well. I hope you will leverage your bilingual skills to promote mutual understanding of the Chinese and African people, and subsequently contribute to the mutually beneficial cooperation for the well-being of the people.
Third, open the door to mutual learning and profound understanding.
The world today is still not free from cultural barriers and walls of bigotry. To bring an end to the estrangement and clashes between different civilizations and the claim of supremacy of one over the others, we must promote exchanges, encourage mutual learning, and advocate coexistence. Despite the impact from Covid-19 on international travel and educational exchanges, I can still see among the young people here in Liberia a growing enthusiasm for studying in China. Each year, about 50 Liberian students are awarded Chinese Government Scholarships in various categories mostly masters and PhD. It is our hope also that the pandemic control situation will improve much sooner to allow these students to join their colleagues in various universities in China to continue or start their studies.
The Chinese language is a “golden key”. I hope you will use it to open the door to understanding Chinese civilization and to promote mutual learning, mutual respect, and mutual trust not only between China and Liberia, China and West Africa but also between China and Africa, Asian and African civilizations.
In conclusion, let me quote from a letter that President Xi Jinping wrote to international students in Beijing. He said:
“China welcomes outstanding young people from all over the world to China for studies. I encourage you to learn more about the country, to communicate more with young people here and to tell more to the world about what you see in China. I hope young people around the world will join hands to bring people of different nations closer and to contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.”
I hope you will all work harder to learn and master the Chinese language, and become envoys of China-Liberia friendship and contributors to a community with a shared future for mankind!
I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all the teachers and volunteers who have over the years devoted their time and efforts to Chinese language teaching and brought the Chinese culture to the doorsteps of the Liberian and African people. My sincere thanks to the two Deans of the Confucius Institute at the University of Liberia, in particular Madam Zhou Hongzhuan from China and all the Chinese and Liberian teachers, for their efforts in making this symposium possible. And I wish the Symposium on Chinese Education in West Africa a great success!