As Torch Passes to Students, They Will Need ‘Strong Courage’ in Facing Down Entrenched Interests, Secretary-General Says at China’s Fudan University

22 May 2014

As Torch Passes to Students, They Will Need ‘Strong Courage’ in Facing Down Entrenched Interests, Secretary-General Says at China’s Fudan University

22 May 2014
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

As Torch Passes to Students, They Will Need ‘Strong Courage’ in Facing Down

Entrenched Interests, Secretary-General Says at China’s Fudan University


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at Fudan University, in Shanghai today:

Huidao zhongguo hen gaoxing.  (回到  中国  很高兴)  [I am happy to be back in China.]

It’s a great honour for me to have this opportunity to speak about some of my own thoughts about global affairs at this very esteemed university.

Before I begin, I’d like to recognize some particular guests. First of all, Ambassador Liu Jieyi, the Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, with whom I work on a daily basis, and I thank you for your support.  And I’d like to introduce and recognize the unexpected presence of Dr. Han Seung-soo, former Prime Minister of [the Republic of] Korea, who is my life-long boss and teacher.  Lastly, Ambassador Wu Hongbo, who is the senior-most Chinese national who works in the United Nations as Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.  Thank you for your leadership.

This is my seventh visit to China as Secretary-General of the United Nations.  That means I’ve been here almost once every year, without fail. That [shows how much] I attach great importance to the partnership between the United Nations and China.  Each time I come, I am grateful for the opportunity to experience China’s traditional culture and values, even as I see evidence of great change, great transformation, which you are making.  And on each visit, I marvel, yet again, at your enormous progress and your determination to build a better future.

The country’s name in Chinese is “zhong guo”, which, as you know, means “Middle Kingdom”.  That means the Chinese people have always been regarding themselves as the centre of the world for a long time.  Then now, what does this mean for you, particularly for the young people who will be responsible for your future?

You are playing a central role in its affairs and you are also expected to play such an important global, central role in this world.  China should continue to match its growing global role by reaching out to every corner of the world, particularly for those people and countries who are less fortunate, who can less afford what you can at this time.  That means you need to reach out to the world.  The first priority may be to reach your Government leaders, reach your own people, but in this global era, people expect that China will play a much greater global role.  That’s my main message today to you, young students.

As we look together to the future, the United Nations is leading a global conversation focused on a key question:  what kind of a world do you want?

Since last year, we have surveyed people across the world.  We wanted to know what issues matter most for families and for communities, and particularly, young people like yourselves.

We have heard the views of well over a million people around the world. Through the "My World" survey, we have reached at least 2.5 million people — what do you think is the most important thing which will really make a difference to your life and to the lives of many people around the world?

There has been a remarkable degree of convergence — among young and old, men and women, rich and poor, north and south, and east and west.  Their concerns echoed my own conversations with people around the world.

Education has topped the list of priorities.  This is what you are doing in Fudan University.  Then comes decent jobs and health care — they are following very closely, particularly jobs for young people.  Then, honest and good governance, responsive government, is also a key demand.

The “My World” survey, through which the United Nations has been reaching out to the world, is designed to help United Nations Member States with a hugely important task:  shaping the future development agenda.

Since the year 2000, when the world celebrated the beginning of the new millennium, world leaders gathered at the UN and adopted a blueprint for the world.  That is what we call the Millennium Development Goals.

They wanted to give us fair opportunities.  First of all, to reduce abject poverty by half by 2015, [which is] next year.  And to provide primary education to all the people and to provide good quality health care and secure gender empowerment.  Those are the goals which leaders have set and declared, and we are working very hard to achieve these goals, the Millennium Development Goals.

Thanks in large measure to China, we have met one goal, that is cutting in half the abject poverty level by 2015.  It was already achieved by 2010, according to World Bank statistics.  That is owing to China’s great efforts, so we were able to lift out of poverty half of the population.

But, there are many other issues, seven issues, which all countries must get on board for.  We are working very hard.

Now, leaders at the United Nations, leaders of the world, are working very hard to shape the future development agenda.  Then, can we meet all these Millennium Development Goals by next year?  I don't think so.  Many of the Millennium Development Goals will have to be carried over.  There are some unfulfilled development goals.  That is why we are aiming for 2030.

There is much unfinished business.  Too many countries and vulnerable people are being left behind.  It is also clear that we must give greater attention to pressing issues that are central to success in the twenty-first century, including climate change, inequality, the rule of law, violence against women and the impact of disasters and many conflicts.

Our fundamental challenge at this time is to formulate an inclusive, universal agenda that will steer our world onto a truly sustainable, prosperous and peaceful path.

This is a time of test for the human family.  We are living in a very crucially important time.  Thus, your responsibility and your engagement and your vision will be very important, particularly for faculty members and professors.  I really hope that you [teach your students well], so that they will be able to have a global vision.

Let me give a few examples.  The conflict in Syria, the tragedy in Syria, is still continuing.  More than 150,000 people have been killed and many more people have been injured.  Many people have left their country — at least 3 million people have left their country, becoming refugees in neighbouring countries.  Half of the population, nearly 9 million people, have been affected by this tragedy.

The conflicts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic are still continuing.  The intolerable tragedies are continuing.  Fighting between Christians and Muslims and fighting along ethnic lines.

The impacts of climate change are already with us and will affect generations to come unless we take immediate action now.

This is also an era of transition.  New Powers have emerged — exemplified by the rise of China.  China has now become what they call the “G-2” (Group of Two).  Did you ever think that China would rise so quickly and become part of the G-2?

Thanks to smart phones and other technologies, we are much more connected, in the blink of an eye, you can be connected from this corner to the other corner.

The world’s people are on the constant move.  The mobility of human beings is amazing.  Human beings have been mobile since the beginning of our history.  But, these days, the movement of human beings is massive.  It causes a lot of problems, [having] positive and negative [effects].

You yourselves show another face of the new global landscape:  More than half of the global population is now under the age of 25.  This world is very young.  Of course, more than half of the population is women.

You will soon inherit the responsibility, while we are doing our best to make this planet Earth more sustainable, soon it will become your responsibility.  I may have to leave in just a couple of years and most of your professors will retire, then it is your turn.  The torch will be given to you.  But, my responsibility as Secretary-General is that I will do as much as I can to leave a lesser burden to the coming generations.

You will be the environmental activists who fight pollution, promote renewable energy and deliver a low-carbon growth model to combat climate change.  And of course, you are the future for human dignity and human rights in China, for you are coming of age in the twenty-first century as global citizens in one of the world’s largest and most influential nations.  You will be more globally interconnected than any previous generation, so you should be ready.  I am sure that you are prepared already.

I know how actively you are engaging in social media with your counterparts all around the world.  This is why you must all lift your eyes to the bigger picture.  When you are living in a country like China, your country is so vast, with so many people, you are apt to see only your neighbours, but now is the time to lift your vision to the outside world.  Just forget about the fact that you are living in China — you are living in this world.  This world has become one family of nations.  So, my message is that you must be a global citizen, having a global vision.  Try to learn to be compassionate for other people who are much less fortunate, who are not able to enjoy what you are enjoying in China.  This is one of your very important responsibilities.

When it comes to human rights, no country can claim a perfect human rights record; all must do much, much more to learn from the past and honour their commitments for the future under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations.

China has made important strides.  I expect China and its Government to continually improve human dignity.  Let us work together to advance human rights — the foundation of global harmony and stability.

I thank all those who have contributed to the "My World" survey.  I have been very encouraged by the response from China.  Now it is my turn to share with you my own vision.

When I look out across the world, I see a need for more calm, more compassion, more cooperation and more courage.  Calm, so that we can resolve differences peacefully.  Compassion — all of you have very strong passion.  It is the prerogative and privilege of young people to be passionate.  But, you should also have compassion.  Cooperation, in order to deliver on our promises and get things done.

Courage — again, for the young generation, you need strong courage to face down entrenched interests and overcome all of these difficulties, whether they are political or social difficulties.  I think you have such courage.

These are my "four Cs".  I would like to add one more "C" in China.  The fifth "C", for me, is Confucius.  I have been influenced by the teachings of Confucius.  When I began my second term, I quoted some lessons from Lao Tzu.  Many times, I have talked about one important lesson which has guided me as person, as a leader.

Confucius taught:  “To put the world in order, you must put your nation in order; to put your nation in order, you must put your family in order; to put your family in order, you must put yourself in order; you must cultivate your personal life; to cultivate your personal life, you must first set your heart right.”

This is what, as they say in Chinese:  修身  齊家  治國  平天下.

I hope we will all set our hearts right, recognize the global logic of our times, and work together for peace and a life of dignity for all.

I have been speaking a lot about how we must work to make this world better for all, for a better life of dignity for all.  This is the title of my report to the United Nations:  "A Life of Dignity for All".

China has inspired many countries because of its rich culture and remarkable progress.  With such gains come both great expectations and responsibilities.

I will continue to count on China for leadership in addressing our global challenges.  And I look forward to the contributions you in this audience will make to this work and to our world.

Again, I thank you very much for your attention and very warm welcome to this University, which is very esteemed, and it has been a great honour and I thank you for your support to the United Nations.

Ganxie nimen zhichi lianheguo.  (感谢你们支  持  联合国)  [Thank you for supporting the United Nations.]

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.