Biography Speeches & Articles Column Articles Photo & Video Gallery e-letter Staff Directory

23 March 2011

China Economic Development Forum:
President's Speech

Prof Lin, Prof Li, Prof Yi, Prof Chan and Prof Leonard Cheng, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

I don't know about you, but I feel a bit star-struck today ? In the presence of four big names, four big faces in our economic world ? You will notice that I address each one of them as Professor. That is because each one of them is either a current or former professor, not just of any other university, but of HKUST. I know that Dean Leonard Cheng considers their presence at this Forum as a mini homecoming for his heavyweights, but I take their coming as giving this university a bit of bragging rights on the occasion of our 20th anniversary.

You see, all four of them are now on a bigger stage, and some would say, a greener pasture, each playing a big role in the economic development of either Hong Kong, China and or the world. They are part of the team that has given HKUST the nick name of being a miracle university, given its young age and high reputation. They show to the world what depth of talents we have in our Business School and in our university. Together, they represent a clear statement to the outside world that this university sets a high purpose in its mission: to make an impact on the wider world. You see, we never see our university as an ivory tower. We see it as a center of intellectual innovation or social engagement that makes our world a better and happier place.

In a very uncanny way, the rise of this university, and the rise of our Business School mirrors the spectacular rise of China. Both happened at about the same time. Twenty years ago, China was hardly on the world's economic radar, and our university was just a ship that had barely left the harbor. But what a 20-year voyage this has been ! If we had held this Forum 20 years ago, it would not have attracted this much attention and this high-power audience, because China was then just beginning to find her footing, and we were just pushing our boat out. Today, they are not just lecturing university students in the classroom, they are talking to the world, in a bigger forum, on a subject nobody can get enough of.

I must say that luck is on our side, the luck of timing. We were all born at the right time, a historic time when China begins its golden era. Historians may say that China is fast approaching her zenith not reached since the Tang Dynasty. You all know that China has just recently become the world's second largest economy. But it doesn't mean that China is second in importance. Her importance is measured and magnified by the fact that it is an economy on rapid rise, with her soft tentacles in every corner of the globe, lifting up other regions, floating all boats, and helping to speed the world's economic recovery. In other words, China's importance lies not just in the size and velocity of its economy, but in its unstoppable momentum. But let me not dwell too long on the subject of the economy, because I am not an authority on this subject. These four gentlemen are. Today, my role is more like a Hollywood manager. I am just here to shine the stage light on them before they speak, and quickly get out of their way.

But I am glad that the university's 20th anniversary celebration has given us the excuse to showcase four truly outstanding members of our former or current faculty, to underline the message that this university means business, that this university is dead serious about engaging the world and making an impact, locally, regionally and globally. The dean thinks it is a homecoming, even though it is only for one day, at a five-star hotel looking out on the world's most beautiful harbor. I am sure they don't mind. I am sure you can't wait. Today, we surrender ourselves to the joy of celebrating the remarkable success of our speakers, and the concurrent success of our university. Our sense of euphoria is only tinged by the sadness over the tragedy that has struck our neighbor Japan. Like the China economy, Japan's triple tragedy shows what an interconnected world we live in. But I am sure, like the world economy, it will soon recover. I believe in miracles. At HKUST, we believe in miracles. And if you think that HKUST itself is a miracle, I can assure you that all of us here are committed to making sure that its miracle will continue, now and into the next twenty years.

Thank you.


Previous Next