Thank you. Thank you, President Chen, Chairmen Ren, Vice President Chi, Vice Minister Wei. We are delighted to be here today with a very large American delegation, including the First Lady and our daughter, who is a student at Stanford, one of the schools with which Beijing University has a relationship. We have six members of the United States Congress; the Secretary of State; Secretary of Commerce; the Secretary of Agriculture; the Chairman of our Council of Economic Advisors; Senator Sasser, our Ambassador; the National Security Advisor and my Chief of Staff, among others. I say that to illustrate the importance that the United States places on our relationship with China.
I would like to begin by congratulating all of you, the students, the faculty, the administrators, on celebrating the centennial year of your university. Gongxi, Beida.
As I’m sure all of you know, this campus was once home to Yenching University which was founded by American missionaries. Many of its wonderful buildings were designed by an American architect. Thousands of Americans students and professors have come here to study and teach. We feel a special kinship with you.
I am, however, grateful that this day is different in one important respect from another important occasion 79 years ago. In June of 1919, the first president of Yenching University, John Leighton Stuart, was set to deliver the very first commencement address on these very grounds. At the appointed hour, he appeared, but no students appeared. They were all out leading the May 4th Movement for China’s political and cultural renewal. When I read this, I hoped that when I walked into the auditorium today, someone would be sitting here. And I thank you for being here, very much.
Over the last 100 years, this university has grown to more than 20,000 students. Your graduates are spread throughout China and around the world. You have built the largest university library in all of Asia. Last year, 20 percent of your graduates went abroad to study, including half of your math and science majors. And in this anniversary year, more than a million people in China, Asia, and beyond have logged on to your web site. At the dawn of a new century, this university is leading China into the future.
I come here today to talk to you, the next generation of China’s leaders, about the critical importance to your future of building a strong partnership between China and the United States.
The American people deeply admire China for its thousands of years of contributions to culture and religion, to philosophy and the arts, to science and technology. We remember well our strong partnership in World War II. Now we see China at a moment in history when your glorious past is matched by your present sweeping transformation and the even greater promise of your future.
Just three decades ago, China was virtually shut off from the world. Now, China is a member of more than 1,000 international organizations -- enterprises that affect everything from air travel to agricultural development. You have opened your nation to trade and investment on a large scale. Today, 40,000 young Chinese study in the United States, with hundreds of thousands more learning in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America.
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