Zhang Donggang: Universities: Bridges to understanding


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Zhang Donggang: Universities: Bridges to understanding


Source: CD Published: 2024-01-07

China-US relations are the most important bilateral relations of the 21st century. Currently, the world is undergoing unprecedented changes. China and the United States, as the largest developing country and the largest developed country, have closely intertwined interests. The combined economic output of the two countries accounts for over one-third of the world's total output, their populations represent nearly one-fourth of the global population, and the bilateral trade volume constitutes around one-fifth of the world's total. China and the United States share extensive common interests, and the cooperation and competition between the two countries not only affects their own interests but also has significant implications for peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

In his speech on November 15 at the Welcome Dinner by Friendly Organizations in the United States, President Xi Jinping emphasized once again that the future of the world requires China and the United States to cooperate. Faced with a world fraught with various challenges, China and the United States need to have broad vision, play their roles as major countries and shoulder the responsibilities expected of them. China and the US need to handle their relations from the perspective of grasping the overall trend of the world and striving in the direction of the 'Five Pillars' supporting the 'San Francisco Vision' — namely, establishing correct perceptions, jointly managing differences effectively, promoting mutually beneficial cooperation, sharing the responsibilities of major countries, and enhancing people-to-people exchanges. The two sides should strengthen communication and dialogue, seek to manage their differences and competition, and work together to make positive contributions to global development.

Universities are where cultural traditions are passed on and where ideas and academia converge. As the first new type of regular university founded by the Communist Party of China, Renmin University of China has always taken on the mission and responsibility of promoting progress for humanity and seeking common ground for the world. We are actively contributing to the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind and the development of a new type of international relations. We focus on cultivating strategic talents with a global perspective and have established the Sino-French Institute, Silk Road School and College of International Organizations.

We have also cooperated with 311 universities and international organizations in 61 countries and regions, including 34 American universities, establishing enduring partnerships. Embracing the principles of resource sharing and mutually beneficial cooperation, we have strengthened bilateral and multilateral educational exchanges and cooperation.

Furthermore, we strive to enhance the integration and mutual learning of civilizations from different countries. We host high-level forums such as the Tongzhou Global Development Forum, 'China and the World Dialogue' International Forum, and the China-US Student Leaders' Financial Dialogue Forum. Through academic exchanges and dialogues with Chinese and foreign experts, scholars, and youth, we promote academic prosperity.

President Xi Jinping pointed out that the hope of the China-US relationship lies in the people, its foundation is in our societies, its future depends on the youth, and its vitality comes from exchanges at subnational levels.

Renmin University of China is willing to fully leverage its unique advantages as an educational institution, tap the potential of the unique role philosophy and social sciences play in the integration - Chinese and foreign cultures and the enhancement of cultural exchanges, become a model for China-US educational cooperation, a pioneer in China-US cultural exchanges, and a driver for the development of China-US relations. We aim to consolidate the foundation of China-US relations, enhance the vitality of China-US exchanges, and co-create the future of China-US relations.

First, we will solidify the foundation for China-US relations through the power of education. We will strengthen China-US educational exchanges and cooperation by combining high-quality 'introduction' and high-level 'going global' strategies, promoting more interactions, exchanges and dialogues, cultivating innovative international talents with a global vision, and enhancing the friendly feelings between the two peoples.

Second, we will enhance the vitality of China-US exchanges through the power of education. We will engage in pragmatic cooperation in areas such as scientific research, scholar visits, and student exchanges. We will actively participate in the implementation of President Xi Jinping's pledge to invite 50,000 American teenagers to China within the next five years, deepen cultural exchanges and mutual learning between China and the United States, and inject vitality into China-US relations.

Third, we will co-create the future of China-US relations through the power of education. We will establish diverse channels for public diplomacy and cultural exchanges in promoting global development, ensuring global security and fostering exchanges among civilizations. By providing high-level academic achievements and policy recommendations, we will provide strong impetus for the development of China and the United States. We will promote mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and mutual benefit cooperation between the two countries.

If global youth have ideals and take responsibilities, human society will have a bright future, and the noble cause of peace and development will have hope. Renmin University of China is willing to join hands and work together with friends from home and abroad, gathering the power of young people, the power of the people, and the power of progress. We will strive to make even greater contributions to continue of China-US friendship, advance bilateral relations, and foster global peace and development.

The author is chairman of the University Council of Renmin University of China, chairman of the National Academy of Development and Strategy, RUC. This is his welcoming speech on the opening of the 2023 China-US Public Diplomacy Summit on Dec 12, 2023.