Rector’s Speech in Congregation 2024 (02/06/2024)

Honourable representative of the Chief Executive of the Macao SAR,  Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ms Ao Ieong U,

Honourable Chair of the University Council, Dr Peter Lam Kam Seng,

Distinguished Members of the University Assembly and the University Council,

Dear guests, parents, teachers, students, ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon! Welcome to the 2024 Congregation of the University of Macau, to join us in witnessing this significant moment in the lives of over 1,700 students. On behalf of the University of Macau, I would like to extend my warm congratulations to all the students who are successfully graduating this year! And my sincere appreciation to the teachers and parents who have cared for and nurtured our students throughout their studies!

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the relocation of the University of Macau to the Hengqin campus. Over the past decade, with the support of the central government and the Macao SAR government, and with support and assistance from all sectors of society, the University of Macau has positioned itself as a university with firm roots in Macao, committed to the development of the Greater Bay Area, integrating itself into national development while reaching out to the world. Through this positioning, UM has continued to improve diversity, openness, and inclusiveness of its campus, upgrading talent cultivation and promoting a collaborative and open environment for research. The university has actively recruited a number of renowned scholars from all over the world and produced outstanding talents for society. As the saying goes, ‘it takes ten years to grow a tree, but a hundred years to bring up a generation with good talent’. Our campus today is not only covered in luxuriant greenery, but is also turning into a vibrant garden where talent blossoms. Over the past decade, the university’s academic standing and international reputation have been significantly elevated, gaining recognition and acclaim from all sectors of society. However, we will not rest on our laurels, and will keep marching towards the goal of becoming an internationally recognised university of excellence!

Dear students, the University of Macau has always been committed to expanding resources and space for teaching and research through high-level collaboration. At the end of last year, UM officially joined the ‘Association of University Presidents of China (AUPC)’, becoming a member of this apex higher education consortium in China. AUPC is also known as the ‘C9 League+’, whose members include Tsinghua University, Peking University, University of Hong Kong, and other top universities in the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, we will continue to offer more international exchange programmes and face-to-face exchange activities, so that students can have more opportunities to study and participate in exchange studies, thus broadening their horizons and enriching university life. Your progress and achievements during your four years at UM are the best evidence that UM has fulfilled its original aspiration of fostering virtue through education and stands in testimony of its international standard of education.

Dear students, the world at present is marked by cycles alternating growth and recession. As international tensions continue to flare, climate change, environmental deterioration and energy issues have become increasingly prominent. At the same time generative AI continues to make rapid progress. All these bring us opportunities as well as challenges. In the government’s work report released during this year’s ‘two sessions’, developing new productive forces is placed among the top ten tasks of the government. Forging new productive forces is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving high-quality socio-economic development in China in the new era, which presents your generation with an invaluable opportunity. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the 25th anniversary of Macao’s return to the motherland. With these two anniversaries on the horizon, I would like to share with you three ideas.

First, I hope you will set high aspirations for yourselves and sharpen your skills. As a saying goes, ‘a man without a purpose is like a rudderless ship’. Young people, despite their vitality and dreams, need to set ambitious goals to channel their efforts, so that they can go beyond their current vision, and obtain a broader perspective. There is no success without willingness to work hard and endure hardship. As President Xi once said, ‘A few failures, setbacks and challenges in youth can go a long way in helping you succeed in life.’ Dear students, looking back at the past four years at UM, we have overcome many challenges and difficulties together in learning, as in life. You have learned to find joy in the midst of adversity and to push your limits to scale new heights. These are extremely valuable lessons in your lives. Diligence in study and the pursuit of truth will make you ‘a wise person free from doubts’; cultivation of your moral character and virtue will make you ‘a benevolent person free from anxiety’; and unswerving determination will make you ‘a brave person free from fear’. Dear students, I hope that you will set high ambitions for yourselves and be ready to work hard by continuing to improve yourselves, expanding your capabilities and sharpening your skills!

Second, I hope you will shoulder the responsibilities of youth and stand firm at the forefront of the times. Each generation comes to face their own historical opportunities, responsibilities and missions. Your personal growth is inseparable from the needs of the country and times, and the prosperity of China and Macao lies in your hands. The youth must maintain a global outlook and bear the responsibilities of the times. You must dare to be pioneers, unafraid to stand firm at the forefront of the times, and align your personal growth with the development of the country and Macao. Dear students, the great poet Qu Yuan lamented in his poem – ‘Long is my road, and far is the journey; high and low, up and down, I’ll continue to search with will.’ I hope in future career paths and study you will demonstrate an even greater sense of responsibility and duty as alumni of UM. I also hope that you will carry forward the noble tradition of loving the motherland and Macao, take it upon yourselves to contribute to furthering the cause of ‘One Country, Two Systems’, share weal and woe with the new era, break new ground and let your talent shine.

Third, I hope you will make full use of the exuberance of youth and create a great future. To realise the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and long term prosperity and stability of Macao require generations of aspiring youth to build on past achievements and progress with unrelenting persistence. Looking ahead, a new cycle of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation is in the office and expected to take place at an accelerated rate across the world. This is a crucial moment for China to advance national development and national rejuvenation on all fronts through modernisation adapted to our conditions. Dear students, you are living at a remarkable time. You are also at an age when you exhibit the most active and quick minds, an insatiable hunger for the unknown and receptiveness to the new.  You are the most vibrant force of our society and the stage for you to unleash your talent is wide. I hope you will give full play to your youthful vigour and intelligence, stay perceptive to and curious about new things and knowledge, and explore them to the fullest. I also hope you will never stop acquiring new knowledge, technologies and skills, and make due contributions to the development of the country and Macao as alumni of UM.

Dear students, you are about to embark on a new journey in life. Every step of yours carries the hope of the country and the nation. I hope you will continue to pursue knowledge and seek truth, live up to the promise of your youth and forge ahead. I hope you will be guided by the motto of UM – ‘Humanity, Integrity, Propriety, Wisdom and Sincerity’ and begin a new chapter of your own with your talent and courage.

Once again, my congratulations to all graduates. I wish you a bright future ahead. To all our guests I wish you and family good health, happiness and all the very best.

Thank you!