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Speech at the Joint Conference Tsinghua University-TU Delft by Ambassador Xue Hanqin

Mr. President Van Luijk,

Mr. President Gu Binglin,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to attend this wonderful occasion, where two top technical universities of China and the Netherlands are holding joint conference to exchange views on the possible areas for future collaborations between the two institutions. As the Chinese Ambassador, I still remember vividly that about two years ago, when President Van Luijk came to the Embassy and asked me, "Is Tsinghua University a top technical university in China?" as he was considering to establish contacts between the Delft University and Chinese top universities. I assured him with much confidence by replying "Yes, that is China's MIT." He looked quite pleased. Sometime later, when I received a Chinese education delegation, the head of the delegation raised a similar question. He asked me, "Is Delft University a good technical university?" I told him that it was one of the best in the country. He was apparently impressed. Frankly speaking, these two encounters left a deep impression on me. Obviously, the embassies on both sides should do more promotion work for our universities. This time when I looked at the programs set up for this Joint Conference, I feel so happy to see that the two universities are already engaged in substantive dialogues on the subjects in which they share common interest. I sincerely hope that the conference will produce concrete results.

After 28 years of rapid economic development, China has made great headway in its modernization process, but there are more challenges ahead. In its new national development agenda, the 11th Five Year Plan, China will strive to develop its country in a more balanced and sustainable way. Among its development strategic priorities is increasing capacity for innovation. While we are deepening our institutional reforms to make our scientific and technological research more connected with the production, more responsive to the market, closer to the needs of the people, we are reaching out for international collaboration and cooperation. As the Chinese economy is getting increasingly integrated in the world economy, common issues such as energy, environmental protection, resource-conservation, public health, food security, etc. are also much on the agenda of the Chinese government. It is not exaggerating to say that the key to all these issues in the final analysis lies in the development of innovative science and technology and lies in our joint efforts.

The Netherlands is a well-developed country, strong in science and technology in many fields. In recent years, there have been increasing exchanges between China and the Netherlands. At the national level, the Program of Science Strategic Alliance, a five-year scientific cooperation program between China and the Netherlands, is approaching the end of its first phase. As I was told the other day by the President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences ( KNAW), both sides are quite satisfied with the 15 projects under the Program. In the water management field, the two governments have kept very close contacts with a number of water projects in China. Besides, enthusiasm for science and technological cooperations with China is also strongly felt at the provincial and city levels. As far as collaborations between our research institutions and universities are concerned, I must confess that there are many activities beyond my knowledge. In this aspect, I do not feel ashamed to have failed my duty. At the moment, there are about seven to eight thousand Chinese students studying in the Dutch universities and professional schools. They not only provide research forces but also play a bridging role between the two countries. As Ambassador, I do have tried my best to take good care of them.

Mr. President, this year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of normal diplomatic relations between our two countries. As we reflect upon our past experience, we are looking forward with much confidence to an even better relationship between our two countries and peoples. With that, I sincerely wish this joint conference a great success.

Thank you for your attention.

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