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A New Era Calling for New Ideas, New Visions, New Behaviors and New Actions
2019/04/12

--Interview on the Conferral of Honorary Doctorate Degree by University of Johannesburg on President Xi Jinping by H.E. Ambassador Lin Songtian of China to South Africa

11 April 2019, University of Johannesburg

Q: There are a lot of famous universities in the world. Why does the University of Johannesburg in South Africa become the first university in the world to confer the honorary doctorate degree upon President Xi Jinping?

A: It is no accident or surprise that the University of Johannesburg made such a decision to confer President Xi Jinping the honorary doctorate degree in engineering.

The University of Johannesburg is the fastest-growing university and the foremost Pan-African university in Africa. With its progressive ideology and deep roots in Africa, the University of Johannesburg is committed to Africa's innovation and development and has cultivated a large number of professional talents in such fields as engineering, business, law and humanities.

The University of Johannesburg attaches great importance to studies on China and China-Africa relations. It took the lead in setting up the Centre for Africa-China Studies in the economic and financial hub of South Africa, and became one of the first South African universities to set up the Confucius Institute. Now it has become an important base for academic and people-to-people exchanges between China and South Africa.

Vice Chancellor Prof. Marwala, who grew up in South Africa and received higher education in Britain and the United States, is a famous scholar with a global perspective and vision. He is the first PhD degree holder in Artificial Intelligence in South Africa as well as the pioneer in this field. He has had a systematic study of both the eastern and western governance models. Having read through the works of the successive leaders of the People's Republic of China, Vice Chancellor Prof. Marwala can elaborate on their core ideas and profound meanings. He has read through the two volumes of The Governance of China by President Xi Jinping, and highly admires Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. Having been to China many times, Vice Chancellor Marwala witnessed the national stability, economic development, social harmony and people's happiness in China.

Therefore, it is quite reasonable for the University of Johannesburg to take the lead in the world to pay tribute to President Xi Jinping in the form of conferring him the honorary doctorate degree and call on the world to view China's rise in an objective and unbiased manner. We highly appreciate it.

Q: There are so many heads of state around the globe. Why do you think the University of Johannesburg only chose to confer the honorary doctorate degree upon President Xi Jinping at a time when the world is at a critical juncture of where to go?

A: I have met with Vice Chancellor Marwala and the leadership of the University of Johannesburg many times. What impressed me most is that they have a deep understanding of President Xi Jinping's vision, philosophy and successful practices in the Party and state governance as well as his thought on diplomacy.

They believe that when President Xi Jinping assumed office six years ago, China was confronted with such serious challenges as environmental pollution and corruption caused by the rapid economic growth over the past 30-plus years, weakening driving force for economic development and growing contradictions between the imbalanced and inadequate development and the increasing people's aspirations for a better life. Meanwhile, China was also facing external daunting risks and challenges including sluggish global economic recovery, headwind for globalization, surging geopolitical conflicts and prevalence of hegemonism, populism and protectionism. Both China and the world have come to a crossroads.

Facing the same severe challenges both at home and abroad, President Xi Jinping has united and led all the Chinese people to successfully explore a unique and new path, bringing new hope and future to the world.

They believe that there is no way out if some Western countries still cling to the Cold-War mentality and zero-sum game mindset and put their own interests first. They oppose that a certain country, in order to make itself great again, went even further to launch a global trade war at the expense of the common interests of the people around the world.

In stark contrast, President Xi Jinping maintains a close combination of China's own development with the common development of the world. Domestically, he stay committed to building a better China and externally, he is committed together with the international community to building a better world, which speaks volumes about the strategic foresight and the historical sense of responsibility as the leader of a major country.

Friends from various sectors in South Africa tell me many times that President Xi Jinping's philosophy on the Party and state governance is very profound and what impressed them most can be summarized as three key words: People First, Country Prosperity and Nation Rejuvenation and Party Disciplined.

First, President Xi Jinping put people first. He always regards people's aspirations for a better life as the goal of the Party and the government's endeavor, ensures that by the end of 2020, all the 1.4 billion Chinese people will be lifted out of poverty with no one left behind; the Chinese people will enjoy not only prosperity but also a blue sky and clean water again.

Second, When President Xi took office 6 years ago, he put forth that we shall stay committed to realizing the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation and building a prosperous, democratic, civilized, harmonious and beautiful modern socialist country. He has united people of all ethnic groups for this common goal .

Third, President Xi Jinping believes that the Party holds the key to managing China's affairs well and we shall stay committed to seeing the Party self-governance exercised fully and with rigor and governing the country by the rule of law in a comprehensive manner. In order to fight corruption, President Xi sticks to the approach of addressing both the symptoms and root causes. On the one hand, he adopts a zero-tolerance attitude towards any form of corruptions in violation of the laws and party discipline with no exception, which has had a strong deterrent effect. On the other hand, President Xi is committed to strengthening the ideological and political education and improving the institution building of the CPC so as to ensure that no Party member and government official dare to, is able to and has desire to engage in corruption. By doing so, President Xi has successfully tackled the tough issue in the world of effectively preventing and combating corruption, and thus built the CPC, the largest political party in the world with more than 90 million members, into a well-disciplined and clean vanguard that is committed to national rejuvenation and happiness of the people.

Friends from South Africa have a very precise understanding of Xi Jinping thought on diplomacy. They said that the world now is order-less, norm-less and directionless, but President Xi believes that only when the world is good will China be better. The Chinese dream is the beautiful dream shared by all peoples around the world. He is committed to building not only a better China but also a better world. He not only seeks happiness for all the Chinese people but also to make greater contributions to the mankind. These foreign policies, philosophies and proposals are totally different from those of the West.

Bearing in mind the notions in traditional Chinese culture that "harmony is the most precious" and "one should care for others when one is better off", based on the successful practices in China's reform and opening-up, and working for win-win cooperation for common development between Chinese people and the people of the world, President Xi Jinping not only put forward the great vision of jointly building a community with a shared future for mankind, but also proposed the Two Pathways to achieve this great vision, First, to build a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation. Second, to advance the Belt and Road Initiative that follows the principle of Three Togethers, namely planning together, building together and sharing together and stays committed to Five Connectivities in policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people-to-people exchanges, so as to achieve win-win cooperation for common development.

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Friends from the intellectual community, including the University of Johannesburg, and the think tanks in South Africa often tell me that the Chinese proposal and Chinese proposition put forth by President Xi to build a better world are essentially different from those proposed by the West in the following four aspects.

First, the goals are different. President Xi advocates win-win cooperation for common development, requiring China to build roads and bridges connecting China with and open wider to the outside world for interconnected, open, inclusive, innovative and common development, instead of erecting walls of isolation along the border, resorting to protectionism and putting their own interests first.

Second, the philosophies are different. President Xi advocates enlarging the cake of world peace and development and pursuing a new path of win-win cooperation for common development instead of the old path of seeking gains at the expense of other's losses.

Third, the pathways are different. President Xi advocates that China's rise and national rejuvenation shall be achieved through fair and reciprocal trade and investment rather than by war or colonization like the Western powers, whose rise was realized by war and conquest through force and colonization to impose trade, plunder resources and exploit people of other countries. China does not have any track record or DNA of bullying other countries, let alone pursuing the old path of colonization like the West.

Fourth, the ways of thinking are different. President Xi maintains addressing the problems and challenges through self-reform and improvement rather than imposing our own will upon other countries and shifting our own problems and responsibilities to others.

A new era calls for new ideas, new visions, new behaviors and new actions. Just as friends in South Africa said, any visionary people who has an objective and deep understanding of President Xi Jinping's thought and philosophies on the Party and state governance and its successful practices will agree that President Xi Jinping is truly the leader of our times, the leader of people, the leader of development, the leader of philosophy and the leader of the world. That is why the University of Johannesburg decided to confer the honorary doctorate degree upon President Xi at such an important time, which follows the call of the times and peoples around the world.

Q: What is the significance for the University of Johannesburg to make this decision and hold such a solemn and grand ceremony to confer the honorary doctorate degree upon President Xi Jinping?

A: The upcoming conferral ceremony will indeed be very solemn and grand. The Vice Chancellor and principal members of the Council, the Executive and the Senate will all attend the ceremony and more than 30 Chinese and local mainstream media stationed in South Africa have been invited to cover it, which shows that this is really an extraordinary event.

I think that the significance for the University of Johannesburg to make such a decision and to hold such a solemn and grand ceremony to confer the honorary doctorate degree upon President Xi Jinping is profound and far-reaching, which goes far beyond the decision and the event itself.

First, it shows that the visionary people in South Africa are thinking about the subjects of the times, i.e. where for their country and the world to go and how to get there, and they have already had their own understanding and right choice of how to build a better South Africa and the world. It shows that they have already found the right answer from China's successful story to the state and global governance model and philosophy .

Second, it shows that the intellectual community in South Africa understand, appreciate and recognize Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, China's domestic and foreign policies and their successful practices.

Third, it shows that the academia in South Africa have a strong desire to deepen China-South Africa academic and people-to-people exchanges and they highly expect China to share its philosophy and successful experiences on the Party and state governance with South Africa and other developing countries. It will greatly encourage the exchanges between China, the academia including the University of Johannesburg, the think tanks and media in South Africa, and thus promoting the mutual learning between China and the rest of the world so as to achieve common prosperity of civilizations in the world.

The action is always guided by the philosophy and the future is decided by the direction. The exchanges between China, South Africa and Africa on the philosophy and experiences on Party and state governance will help enhance mutual understanding, friendship and mutual trust, promote win-win cooperation for common development, deliver greater benefits to peoples around the world and encourage the international community to stay committed to building a community with a shared future for mankind and a better world.

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