Rector’s Speech in the Ceremony for the Conferment of Honorary and Higher Degrees 2021 ( 11/12/2021)

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

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

Honourable Chair of the Honorary Degrees and Titles Committee of the University Council, Mr Lei Pui Lam,

Distinguished Members of the University Assembly and the University Council,

Distinguished guests, dear alumni, parents, teachers and students,

Good afternoon!

This is a memorable occasion for those of you who are graduating this year. After much hard work, perseverance and dedication, you are finally reaping the rewards of your labour and welcoming a new chapter in life. On behalf of all faculty and staff members of the University of Macau (UM), I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to all of you.

I would also like to pay the highest tribute to seven distinguished individuals who are receiving honorary doctorates today. To Professor Lawrence Juen-yee Lau, Professor Kaixian Chen, Professor Shuji Nakamura, Professor Li Lanjuan, Professor Lee Hau Leung, Professor Zhu Lilan and Ms Aglaia Kong Chio Fai. With your dedication and knowledge, you have made extraordinary contributions to our nation and to the world. It is a privilege for the University to be associated with distinguished individuals like you.

After four decades of development, the University now finds itself in a world characterised by profound changes and rapidly evolving technologies. With continuous adaptation and innovation, proactive attitude and investment, we will be able to respond to the new requirements for talent nurturing and technological innovation brought about by the current situation and trends. This year, the University released the outline and blueprint for its development over the next five years. As a university with roots in Macao, we are committed to participating in the development of the Greater Bay Area and that of the nation, in addition to promoting internationalisation. UM seeks to deliver student-centred quality education, research with international impact and high-standard community services. This is in line with our aim to become an internationally recognised university of excellence. Going forward, UM will take on more responsibilities. Through first-class talent nurturing, research, results transfer and diversified community service, it will support measured economic diversification and sustainable development of Macao in a tangible way, and actively respond to the strategic needs of the country’s development.

Dear students, the persistence of the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated drastic changes currently taking place around the world. And a new wave of technological and industrial transformation has highlighted the importance of technological innovation to the future of our nation. Achieving technological self-reliance, engaging in technological cooperation internationally, and addressing common challenges facing mankind have become irreversible trends for the foreseeable future. In 2021, the announcement of the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan and the Long-term Objectives through 2035 ushered in a new journey in the quest for building a modern socialist country. The development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Guangdong-Macao In-Depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin has presented us with more opportunities for growth. I would like to take this opportunity to share with the graduating class three ideas for inspiration.

First, setting goals and meeting challenges. We are now at a historic juncture where the two centenary goals need to be realised. The world is in the midst of profound changes unseen in a century. Our nation is at its best moment in contemporary history in terms of development. As our nation forges ahead, we will be provided with ample opportunities for greater achievements. As the Chinese proverb says, ‘a scholar may not be without a lofty ambition and perseverance, for he has important missions and a long way to go.’ While your national pride has been cultivated by our times, you must also carry a strong sense of responsibility and mission, and consciously align your own personal pursuit with the nation’s future and contribute to the nation’s rejuvenation. I hope that you all will hold fast to your beliefs and set ambitious goals, and that you will, in a time of change, step up and deliver your best in addressing the exigencies of our time with courage and determination. This will ensure that you can make the most of your prime years and become pillars of our society.

Second, Pioneering and Innovation. As President Xi Jinping once remarked, ‘Every generation has its own Long March.’ You represent the new blood in the vanguard of the march towards a bright future for the Chinese nation’s development and rejuvenation. Whatever your future careers or positions, when it comes to pursuing your ideals and ambition, you will do well to keep your feet firmly on the ground and at the same time embracing the spirit of pioneering and innovation with wisdom. I hope that you can remain energetic, dynamic, open-minded and confident, and always stand at the forefront of innovation-driven development. In this way, you will become outstanding talents who can lead trends and contribute to social progress.

Third, Resilience and Perseverance. Life is but a hard and tortuous journey. The journey to your goal will never be plain sailing. Sometimes, it can be bumpy and strewn with obstacles. As you burnt the midnight oil and put in strenuous efforts in your studies, while also surviving the challenges brought about by COVID-19, I have to believe that you have gained understanding of hardships and setbacks. Youth shines through hardships; life is elevated through hard work. I hope that you will display true grit in your future endeavours. Meet challenges and difficulties courageously like a ship breaking through the wind and waves, and press forward with an indomitable will, so that you will become a strong and resilient young generation that can shoulder major responsibilities.

Dear students, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of UM’s establishment, together with the University, let us embark on a new journey, take on new challenges and set sail for new horizons with hope and pride. I trust that you will always keep in mind the University motto ‘Humanity, Integrity, Propriety, Wisdom and Sincerity’, and exert yourselves with self-confidence as you forge ahead on the road of life, in science as in humanities. I wish all the graduates a prosperous future. And to all our guests, good health and all the very best. Thank you!