Xi calls for blazing new path to developing China’s world-class universities

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, and chairman of the Central Military Commission, arrived at Renmin University of China (RUC) for inspection on Monday morning in Beijing, ahead of China’s Youth Day, which falls on May 4.

On behalf of the CPC Central Committee, Xi extended festival greetings to the youth of all ethnic groups nationwide, and gave sincere wishes to all faculty and students of the RUC, all people working in the education sector and all those on youth work. Xi said that he hopes all young people will bear in mind the Party’s instructions, commit themselves to the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and live up to the prime of their lives, to their mission of the times and to the expectations of the people. They should run with all their might on the track of youth, and win the best results the youth today are supposed to get.

Xi stressed that the fundamental issues of education have always been “the education for whom, to whom, and how to educate.” To blaze a new path to developing world-class universities based on Chinese conditions and with Chinese characteristics, we must stay committed to the Party’s leadership and the guidance of Marxism and serve the cause of the Party and the people. We will also ensure that education performs its fundamental mission of fostering virtue, while passing on the traditions of Chinese revolution. Young people should be staunch believers and active disseminators of the core socialist values, and exemplarily act them out. Learning from heroes, forerunners and role models, the youth should endeavor to become a new generation who will shoulder the mission of national rejuvenation and forge ahead determinedly to realize the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

The RUC is the first modern university founded by the CPC. Its precursors were Northern Shaanxi College founded in 1937 amid the war against Japanese aggression, then North China Union University, North University and North China University. During decades of dedication to higher education, the RUC has focused on humanities and social sciences studies and the teaching and research of Marxism, therefore regarded as “a flagship of China’s higher education in humanities and social sciences.”

At around 9:20 a.m., accompanied by Zhang Donggang, Party committee secretary of the RUC, and Liu Wei, president of the university, Xi first arrived at the Lide Building to observe an ideological-political class in a smart classroom. Xi sat among young students, listened carefully and joined their class discussions. He affirmed the university’s continuous efforts to leverage its unique strength and push forward reform and innovation of teaching to provide top-notch courses.

Whether the ideological-political course can play its due role in fostering virtue or not depends on the level of attention it receives, as well as its adaptability and quality, Xi stressed. The essence of the course is reasoning, and attention should be given to the way of teaching to reason in an insightful, thorough and flexible way. Both teachers and students should be involved attentively to make heart-to-heart communications, enlighten and nourish the mind, and motivate themselves.

Xi said the education on ideological-political theories for the youth is a consecutive process, which should be tailored to different stages of their growth and carried out in a targeted way. He expressed the hope that the RUC would work solidly and persistently, strive for excellence, and provide more “golden courses” in ideological-political theories in colleges, secondary and primary schools across the country. He also encouraged colleges nationwide to jointly develop ideological-political curriculums with secondary and primary schools to push for integration of the subject through all levels of education.

Xi also encouraged the RUC students to remain confident in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and strive to be trailblazers on the new journey to build China into a modern socialist nation in all respects.

An exhibition on the RUC’s history is being held at the school’s museum. Xi visited the museum to learn about the school’s history and development, and its achievements in teaching and research in recent years.

The RUC was founded in the midst of the war against Japanese aggression and has been developing with the support of the CPC, boasting a glorious tradition and distinct heritage of revolution, which must be carried forward to hold this important ground for the Party, Xi stressed. It is essential to step up efforts to explore, collect and study materials on the RUC’s history so that we can tell the stories well of the CPC and its efforts to establish the RUC, and encourage faculty and students to pass on the school’s fine traditions and revolutionary legacy.

On the square in front of the museum, Xi met with representatives of senior professors and experts and young and middle-aged teachers, and had cordial exchanges with them. Xi was very pleased to see that the senior professors and experts are all in good shape both physically and mentally.

Xi pointed out that the RUC has long been an intellectual reservoir of talent and masters. Senior professors and experts have devoted all themselves and made great contributions to the Party’s education cause. Young and middle-aged teachers should learn from them, aspire to become great educators, and continue to deliver in teaching, research and innovation.

For China to build world-class socialist universities with Chinese characteristics and to cultivate the next generation of socialists, there must be world-class professors, Xi stressed. The RUC should attach high importance to the training of teachers, especially the cultivation of young and middle-aged ones with high competence, and build itself into a hub of talent and innovation in the research and teaching of humanities and social sciences.

RUC Libraries have a collection of more than 4.1 million books, which consist mainly of academic literature in humanities and social sciences. Here, Xi inspected an exhibition of selected books on the CPC history and Chinese classics, as well as digital academic resources such as a modern search portal and e-copies of newspapers and journals. He was also briefed on the libraries’ protection and use of literature and ancient books, as well as the application of theoretical research results.

Xi stressed that, RUC Libraries’ collection of books on the CPC history, as records of the CPC’s endeavors to establish higher education in China, are precious memories that everyone of us must cherish. It is essential to carefully protect these books and digitalize them step by step, to let them enlighten and inspire more and more people.

Modern technologies should be employed to strengthen the protection, restoration and comprehensive utilization of ancient books. What implied in these books such as the philosophical ideas, humanitarian spirit, values and moral norms, should be fully exploited to promote the creative evolution and development of fine traditional Chinese culture.

It is also important to build depositories of academic resources to better disseminate, collect, integrate, edit, expand and share academic literature. We will establish world-class information platforms for academic resources with Chinese features and improve the nation’s cultural soft power.

Then, Xi met with representatives of the RUC’s teachers and students at the north hall of the Century Gymnasium and gave an important speech. Zhang Donggang, secretary of the RUC Party committee, Gao Mingxuan, laureate of the national honor “People’s Teacher”, Zhao Feng, professor at the School of Economics, Zhou Xiaohui, PhD candidate in journalism, and Wang Hairong, undergraduate at the School of Philosophy, also gave speeches in a lively and warm atmosphere.

Xi stressed that in China, a country with a unique history, distinctive culture and special national context, we cannot blindly follow others or simply copy foreign standards and models when we build world-class universities of our own. Instead, we must proceed from our country’s realities and blaze a new path to building world-class universities with Chinese characteristics.

The RUC has remained committed to cultivating talent for the Party and the country. Dating back to its founding, the RUC was aimed at cultivating “the revolutionary vanguard” when Northern Shaanxi College was launched; “tens of thousands of officials for the nation” shortly after the People’s Republic was founded; “model citizens and pillars of society” during the period of reform and opening up; “pioneers for the national rejuvenation and vanguards for a great country” in the new era. All the time, the RUC has demonstrated an ethos of “living up to the Party and the people’s trust as a university run by the Party and the people.”

The RUC will fulfill the fundamental task of fostering virtue as every institution of learning should and carry forward the traditions of Chinese revolution. The RUC’s faculty and students will remain true to the Party conscientiously, Xi hoped.

Xi said universities form an important part of research institutions of philosophy and social sciences in China. At present, upholding and developing the theory and practice of socialism with Chinese characteristics has presented a large number of new issues that need to be addressed urgently.

He noted that the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, and the world has entered a new period of turbulence and transformation. It is imperative to answer the questions of our times: What has happened to the world? Where will mankind go?

He said we must continue to integrate the basic tenets of Marxism with China’s actual conditions and with the fine traditional Chinese culture, and continue to adapt Marxism to the Chinese context and our times, bearing in mind the overall strategy of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and profound changes unseen in the world in a century.

Xi added that developing philosophy and social sciences with Chinese characteristics, is all in all to construct China’s independent knowledge system. We should take China as a reference, take our times as a reference, and base ourselves on China’s realities to solve China’s problems.

He said we should constantly promote the creative transformation and development of fine traditional Chinese culture, and step up knowledge innovation, theoretical innovation and method innovation, so that China’s philosophy and social sciences can truly stand in the academe of the world.

Xi called on researchers in philosophy and social sciences to have a clear orientation, true principles, profound knowledge and upright moral conduct, conscientiously take the questions of China, the questions of the world, the questions of the people and the questions of our times as their academic responsibilities, and take highlighting China’s path, governance and principles as their ideals and pursuits.

They should apply their expertise to and achieve fruitful results in studying and addressing major issues of overall, fundamental and critical importance to the Party and the country, he added.

We should give full play to the unique role of philosophy and social sciences in integrating Chinese and foreign cultures and enhancing exchanges among them, Xi said, calling for spreading China’s voice, theories and thoughts, making China better understood in the world, and contributing to building a community of shared future for mankind.

Xi stressed that good schools have their own features, but they all share something in common that they have a team of outstanding teachers. For teachers, if they would like to foster their students into a certain kind of people, they should be that kind of people themselves first.

To nurture the next generation who will join and carry on the socialist cause, it is urgent for teachers to be proficient in professional knowledge and exemplary in moral characters. As lecturers of knowledge and paragons of virtues, our teachers should strive to help students solve their doubts with learning, behaving and thinking, Xi said.

Education is a cause that embodies benevolence and love. Only if teachers love their students and the career, they will take corresponding responsibilities. Teachers should be strict with and love their students at the same time. They should provide psychological care for students with the charm of their personalities, and help students gain more wisdom with guidance of their academic achievements. Teachers should love and care every single student, let every student grow healthy and sound, and enable every child to have opportunities to live a rewarding life, Xi said.

What they say should serve as guides for learners and what they do should serve as examples of the times — these are code of conduct for teachers. They should constantly cultivate their moral characters and influence students with their own examples. They should act as masters for students in learning, pursuing career and conducting oneself. Teachers should try to be role models respected and followed by all of society.

Xi pointed out that on the new journey in the new era, the goals of Chinese youth can be boiled down to one point: following the Party, heeding its call and working hard to become a new generation capable of shouldering the mission of national rejuvenation. He said he hoped that all China’s youth will measure the motherland with their feet, discover the Chinese spirit through their eyes, listen to the people with their ears and feel the pulse of the times with their hearts. They should integrate their love for the motherland and the people into the pursuit of their study and career, Xi said.

When Xi was leaving the university, both sides of the road were crowded with teachers and students, who greeted the general secretary with excitement. They cheered with one voice, “We will remain faithful to the Party and we will live up to the trust of the people,” “We will work hard to become pillars of the national rejuvenation and vanguards for a great country.” Xi waved to them amid applause and cheers.

Wang Huning, Ding Xuexiang and leading officials from relevant central departments were also present.

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