Concern the Whole World, Persevere in Adversity and Strive in the New Era: President Xuetao Cao’s Speech on the 2020 Graduation Ceremony


Xuetao Cao

28 June 2020

Dear graduates, parents, teachers and guests,

Good morning everybody!

Today, we are here to hold this on- and offline graduation ceremony for the first time in the history of Nankai University. Because of the epidemic, we are not able to get together as usual, but I believe that this ceremony, held in this special time, bearing special significance, will surely become a special memory that you will never forget. Here, on behalf of the university, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to you for overcoming all difficulties and successfully completing your studies! I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to the teachers, parents and friends who have devoted themselves to you all the time!

Here, on behalf of the university, I solemnly promise to the 2020 graduates who cannot come here that we will set up special seats for the graduation ceremony every year from now on. You are welcome to return to your alma mater to attend any ceremony at any time!

The novel coronavirus pneumonia has seriously threatened the health and life of the people in the past six months, and has caused a great impact on the global economy and international order. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, under the firm leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, a fierce fight was put up against the epidemic. Countless angels in white and heroes who fought in the front line of the anti-epidemic have guarded lives with their own lives and interpreted their responsibilities with great love. They have shown the true humane love of sharing weal and woe and helping each other in times of adversity, and composed a heroic song of triumph!

The 100-year-old Nankai keeps going forward with courage and perseverance. Whenever our nation encounters a critical moment, Nankai people will always step forward: 4 medical staff from the Nankai University’s Affiliated Hospital and other Nankai alumni who work in medical institutes rushed out to the frontline in Hubei and Wuhan as soon as possible; more than 30 teachers from 12 colleges including the fields of chemistry, biology, medicine and pharmacy quickly gathered to lead the team to carry out emergency scientific research to support the anti-epidemic work; College of Foreign Languages has set up a contingent of volunteer translators and they stationed at the front line of epidemic prevention and control at the airport customs to help the work; more than 70 Nankai students have provided volunteer services for nearly 200 medical staff’s families in China; and 2,891 students actively participated in the community’s epidemic prevention and control. In addition, alumni associations and enterprises all over the world supported the motherland and the alma mater through setting up special funds and donating anti-epidemic materials. They gathered together Nankai people to do their best to overcome the difficulties. Here, let's pay high respect to all Nankai people who have made great efforts and outstanding contributions to the fight against the epidemic!

Graduates, this epidemic has brought unprecedented impact on the development of the whole country, the whole world and even the whole mankind. Looking back on this period of history in the future, the impact may be systematic, subversive and reconstructive. The thinking and enlightenment brought by the epidemic situation involve many aspects. For instance, it makes us more deeply understand why life, people and the nation’s interest come above everything else and why we should respect science, abide by rules and maintain order. It enables us to learn to slow down, to stop to examine ourselves, cherish the present, rationalize the choice, learn to turn crisis into opportunity and rise in adversity. It is certain that I hope you, a young generation that bears the nation’s hope and Nankai people who pursue the value of “dedication to public interests, acquisition of all-round capability, and aspiration for progress with each passing day”, will have your in-depth thinking about the era from both historical and forward-looking perspectives:

Experiencing the epidemic, you should have a more direct and profound understanding of the relationship between the country and the individual. Confronted with the epidemic, everyone is a soldier, a chain and a line of defence. 1.4 billion Chinese people are united to build a great wall of steel. “Family is a small country, and a country is composed by millions and millions families.” It is this deepest and most simple feeling of home and country that makes more and more people devote themselves to the battle against the epidemic and give up the family interest to serve the country. You, who are about to leave the campus, should think about how to realize the value of life in the great cause of rejuvenating China, and what you should do in the new era.

Experiencing the epidemic, you must have a more direct and profound understanding of the word “difficulty”. Because of the epidemic, you have experienced the delay of resumption, online teaching, remote experiment, online defence, and “cloud” job search. You have encountered the “most difficult employment season in history”. However, I am glad to see that you have overcome all kinds of difficulties and completed your studies and employment search with high quality. Your mind is more mature and your will is stronger. When leaving the campus, you should know that on the way forward, the risks and tests you are facing will only become more and more complex. As an old saying goes, “Persevere in adversity”, are you ready for it?

Experiencing the epidemic, you need to have a more direct and profound grasp of the unknown and uncertainties. In the “post epidemic era”, the change of production and life style, the reconstruction of public health order, the adjustment of international relations and the innovation of science and technology will make the national and individual development face new challenges, which are bound to be full of variables and contain new opportunities. When leaving the campus, you should know how to persist in integrity and innovation in the face of opportunities and challenges, how to accurately identify changes and respond them with scientific thinking and initiative and maintain your rationality and determination. Facing these “uncertainties” in the future, how will you deal with this situation?

Graduates, you are the first year of graduates in the Nankai University’s new century. As you are about to embark on a new journey in your life, as the President, I hope you will remember the motto “dedication to public interests, acquisition of all-round capability, and aspiration for progress with each passing day”, shouldering the historical responsibility of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and striving in the new era with concern about the whole world and perseverance in adversity.

Striving in the new era needs the concern about the whole world. The hundred-year history of Nankai is a history of patriotic struggle in which we share weal and woe with the Chinese nation. Nankai people were alert and cried out in the national crisis, they were strong and unyielding in the war of resistance against Japan. They explored in the period of reconstruction, pursued innovation in the Reform and Opening Up, and shared the breath and fate with the motherland in the new era. As general secretary Xi Jinping said when he visited Nankai University, “Nankai University has a glorious patriotic tradition, which is the soul of Nankai.” Today, you are in the critical period of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and are facing the opportunities of making contributions and promising achievements. You should firmly carry forward the patriotic tradition of Nankai, stand in a new historical position, understand the general trend of this era and grasp the strategic opportunities. You should always remember general secretary Xi Jinping’s words, serving yourselves to the motherland and the people with your all-round capabilities, shouldering the responsibilities of the era on the broader stage. Know China and serve China. Love China and make contribution in the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Striving in the new era needs the fearlessness of difficulties. Difficulties should strengthen your belief. In this battle against the epidemic and the race against time, we have achieved significant strategic achievements in epidemic prevention and control with optimism and heroism that are not overwhelmed by any difficulties. Ideal condenses strength and builds strength with belief. Our former President Boling Zhang said, “Those who want to make achievements should be foolish sometimes.” This “foolishness” means concentration, determination regardless of temptation, and perseverance. This “foolishness” is a morality and characteristic engraved in Nankai people’s bones. Zhou Enlai, the founding Premier of the People’s Republic of China, devoted himself to the survival of the nation and died for it. Guo Yonghuai and He Binglin, the great scientific giants, kept a lowfile and worked hard for the national defence. Chiaying Yeh, a great master in poetry, faced with the difficulties in life and never changed her original intention. On the long way forward, please believe in yourselves, promote yourselves both physically and mentally, and surpass yourselves by overcoming all obstacles.

Striving in the new era also needs the wisdom of turning the risk to an opportunity. The sudden epidemic has accelerated the evolution of the “great change not seen in a hundred years”. The world political and economic pattern has changed dramatically, the international order has been seriously impacted, and the contradictions in the global governance system have been further highlighted. It also reminds us that the world in the future will change rapidly, and risks and opportunities will always coexist, so does the country, the career and the life. Engels asserted that “No great historical disaster is not compensated by historical progress”. Throughout the history of human development, every resolution of major crisis and disaster inevitably promotes or expedites the iterative upgrading of rational thinking, modern civilization and advanced technology, and innovation is always the “ace card” to break through the crisis and create new opportunities. Whether continuing studies or starting to work, I hope that you will always be enthusiastic in innovation and improve your innovative thinking, dare to reform and take a try, “cultivating new opportunities in crisis, and opening up new positions in changing circumstances” and constantly opening up new fields for your career development and lead a wonderful life.

All the past is the preface of your future. Graduates, you are about to bid farewell to the wonderful university life. During your study time in Nankai, you devote yourself to academic and scientific research. You are constantly striving for self-improvement and surpassing yourself. In particular, in the haze of the epidemic, you serve for the interest of the whole, supporting the university with your own actions and contributions, in the meantime you are also encouraging future students in this way. I am proud of your growth and dedication!

In the future, you will go to different places to develop your career and shine brilliantly in more new fields. Zheng Yao and other 18 students will join the graduate education support group, teaching in Xinjiang, Tibet, Gansu and other places to devote themselves to the construction of the western part of the motherland. Kai Tang and other 592 students will go deep into the front line, stand with the grass roots, and help the motherland to overcome poverty in their most beautiful and young age. Many Nankai students will also explore their territory and pursue their dreams in the key fields, key industries and excellent enterprises urgently needed by the country. As President, I am proud of your ideal and choices!

People become a hero in adversity and those who strive in youth win! I hope you will plant the 100-year Nankai gene into your heart and integrate Nankai’s characteristics into your blood. I hope you will concern the whole world, persevere in adversity, and strive in the new era. A splendid chapter of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will be written by you all.

At last, I wish you all a bright future and hope you will come back to Nankai with your victory!

Thank you!

(Photography by Qiqi Zong, Translated by Yuchen Shi, Edited by Davide Francolino and JianjingYun)