The Values of Shenzhen University——Speech by President Li Qingquan to the 2020 graduating class

Good morning to everyone—colleagues, alumni, parents, and students.

The graduation ceremony this year is unlike any other in the past: many of you are going to go your separate ways before you say goodbye to each other. Some days ago, I climbed all ten most famous mountains in Shenzhen, planning to confer degrees to graduating students of the Class of 2020 at my best. However, the pandemic forced us to change our plan. As the President, I feel great pity that we cannot bid farewell face to face. Under such special circumstances, we still try our best to hold the in-person ceremony that match the traditional festivities for the graduate representatives, hoping that you can feel the warmth and love of your alma mater. We also live stream the ceremony so that you and your family can watch the event wherever you are. At the moment, nearly 10,000 families and those who care about you are watching the ceremony. I propose, let’s give them a big round of applause for everything that they have done for you.

The pandemic that has swept the globe urges all industries to reflectthe way we live our lives and the meaning of life. Formany generations, life passes most people by. However, not everyone has the chance to experiencein theirlives some kind of huge change like the one we are experiencing. The pandemic intrudes onus in a way in which destinies are intertwined regardless of whether you are prepared or not. I have been the university president for 20 years, but it is first time that I have worked in this way. Shenzhen University was born and has thrived amid changes. The past 37 years since its establishment has witnessed the unprecedented changes of the times.We have experienced the twists and turns, enriched our knowledge and become stronger, which makes us no different from the well-known universities with a long history. The world keeps on changing, but there are somevalues that remain unchanged, accompany us from past to future and are highlighted by the pandemic. They are thevalues of Shenzhen University: speak the truth,do things in a down-to-earth manner andmaintain confidence.

Speaking the truth is what we are required to do from childhood,and itis not easy sometimes. Under the pandemic, speaking the truth is an integrated dissemination of knowledge, experience, judgment, decision and even conscience and courage.

Luo Yuming, director and chief reporter of Shenzhen News Department of Phoenix Television and our outstanding alumna, gave us a wonderful speech just now. Since joining Phoenix Television, she has covered almost all important events despite personal danger and risks from the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 to the anti-pandemic battle in Wuhan this year. After lockdown was imposed in Wuhan, as a reporter stationed there, she has shown the world the real situation of the fight against COVID-19 in the epicenter of the outbreak amid the “noise” of the world. I propose a big round of applause for her efforts! Having lived in Wuhan for more than 30 years, I have many relatives and friends there. When the situation was very severe, for fear of bad news, it took me great courage to call them. However, Luostayed there for over 70 days. Every scene she recorded has become the mostauthentic and sincere material on the anti-pandemic battle.

Zhong Nanshan, director of the National Clinical Research Center for Respiratory Disease andhonorarydean ofShenzhen Univeristy Health Science Center, returned to the battlefield when the epidemic broke out. As what he did during the outbreak of SARS in 2003, he warned the public that there was a phenomenon of human-to-human transmission for the novel coronavirus on January 20 after his field trip to Wuhan. He believes that open and transparent information on the epidemic promotes social stability. “The truth is as important as real medicine”, he said. The rumors need to be clarified and settled. Zhong is hailed as a “hero in harm’s way” and “one-of-a-kind talent”. His remarks have become the focus of all parties, and his name, a symbol of social credibility. This is the power of telling the truth.

Fearlessness in the face of disaster is notinstantaneouslyborn butdevelopedout of a deep, strong national sentiment and a sense of duty and responsibility to overcome the calamity and challenge. In the fight against the virus, fearless doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals worked around the clock, and engineersandconstruction workers worked day and night to build specialized hospitals.

The “down-to-earth”value of Shenzhen University is nurtured by and develops with the philosophy of Shenzhen, “Empty talk harms the country, while hard work makes it flourish”. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. At the time, Shenzhen planned to developitselfinto a city witha population ofone millionpeople in a few years. Today, the actual population of Shenzhen has reached over 23 million. Shenzhen University was designed to accommodate 4,000 students. Today, we have nearly 40,000 students with nearly 300,000 graduates. Without hard work from generation to generation, there would be no “Shenzhen miracle” and “SZU speed”. In the war against COVID-19, all SZUers are working diligently along with millions of people to help the city return to normal.

On the evening of the second day of the Chinese New Year, Zhao Jinshui, a pathologist of Shenzhen University General Hospital, changed his flight immediately upon receiving an emergency notice from his department to suspend his vacation. When he set off the next day, the village was already shut down. Nobody could take him to the airport 30 kilometers away. Zhao walked all the way from home to the airport, which took him five hours. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, all medical workers of 20 hospitals affiliated to Shenzhen University have fought day and night at the front line against thepandemic. Among the first batch of medical assistance teams to Hubei, three out of 13 are from Shenzhen University General Hospital with Dr. Meng Xinke as the team leader. Among the first batch of medical personnel supporting the designated hospitals in Wuhan, 15 out of 79 are from hospitals affiliated to Shenzhen University. As of recently, 350,000 nucleic acid tests have been done by the third affiliated hospital of Shenzhen University,the largest number of tests done by one hospital in Shenzhen. In addition, leveraging our scientific research strength, we havemadedozens ofcontributions tovirus detection, drug research and development, and production and work resumption.

During the winter vacation, Zhang Hui, teacher of the Affiliated High School of Shenzhen University, returned to her hometown in Hubei to celebrate the Chinese New Year. When she was informed to conduct online classes, she did not have a computer or access to the Internet. She tried her best and later managed to borrow a laptop from a college student in the neighborhood. When the network was poor, she had to crouch under the window of her neighbors to give a class. Now, students of Shenzhen University's affiliated Education Group have returned to school. Thanks to the exploration of online education for many years, over 3,000 online coursesof Shenzhen Universityhave been successfully delivered. We have overcome the challenge ofpandemic control and school resumption, turning the last resort of emergency measures into opportunities and practices for the reform of education management and teaching models.

Due to the pandemic, we cannot gather on the campus. At the live stream of the Lychee Festival, I saw in the comment “I want to return to SZU so much”. We miss youso muchtoo. We often complain that the campus is too crowded at peak hours. Now the campus is quiet and empty, but our heart aches. A campus without youthful vitality has become boring, and the black swans at Wenshan Lake have been waiting for you since last winter.

After the outbreak of COVID-19, Tencent took the lead in donating 1.5 billion yuan, and provided free online classroom and office resources for tens of millions of teachers and students and more than 100,000 companies. Our alumni companies such as Zhengzhong Property Group, Huaqiang, Costal Group, and Yitian Group offered a rent free period and rent reduction to small and medium-sized businesses to facilitate production and work resumption. Based on the mature UOOC online course platform, we have offered over 1,500 online courses, providing online teaching services to 350,000 students in more than 500 universities across the country. I, together with the Chair of the University Council Liu Hongyi, wrote to Shenzhen government office, public institutions and companies, and called on all teachers and alumni to provide job opportunities for our graduates.I think this is our way of doing things, that is,tobe down-to-earth,conscientious and dependable.

The reason why we revere speaking the truth and doing thingsin a down-to-earth mannerlies in the confidence “the world will become better” and the belief to make a better world. Today, China is facing more complicated situations and difficulties in economic development and international relations,whichproduces both enormous challenges and opportunities. The Chinese nation has grown in all kinds of trials and tribulations. In the face of the pandemic, our confidence comes from the strong resilience of our country, city,industries and each of us.

Shenzhen is the only city mentioned in the WHO’s report as an example of fighting against the virus. Shenzhen’s success in containing the outbreak could not be achieved without the strong municipal governance. From the implementation of strict epidemic prevention and control measures, to resumption of work and production and reopening of schools under regular epidemic prevention and control, Shenzhen has handled the crisis calmly and effectively, preserving public order and ensuring daily sustenance. When the spread of the epidemic triggers panic-buying and hoarding, the Shenzhen government is confident to tell the public not to buy too much because supplies are 10 times and available during the outbreak.

From the conversation with our alumni, I also came to know that their companies have grown in the pandemic, protecting livelihood of people. The “growth” here not only refers to significant data growth, but is also the strong resilience and social responsibility demonstrated by the companies in adversity. For example, Mindray provides medical equipment tothe whole world; BYD makes 5 million masks a day; Skytech holds an online shopping festival; Huaqiangbei sets up some 100 tents outdoor to help tenants resume business. While struggling amid the crisis, the companies are also revamping their concepts, technologies and commercial types to match the new market circumstances.

Some days ago, I watched a program on graduate employment in which Li Jiali and Chen Rongxin,ourgraduating students major in Early Childhood Education from the Normal College, were interviewed. Li got an offer from the G5. Although she has to defer admission because of the pandemic, she does not allow herself to waste time but keeps improving her English skills to be fully prepared to study abroad in the UK. Chen undergoes a little more pressure. While doing tutoring to maintain her life in Shenzhen, she actively tries a range of different jobs such as event planning and video production. Dear class of 2020, you have encountered special difficulties. This global crisis affects all sectors of life,andmany fields are facing great challenges thanus. Taking with you the warmth and unforgettable memoriesofcollege life, you must be very excitedbut confused to step into the unknown. We have paid such a big price to halt the virus. If we cannot give young people the confidence and opportunity, what are we fighting for?

Recently, we have implemented a series of policies and measures to support graduate employment, including the 20 measures to promote graduate employment, increasing enrollment in master’s programs and greater support to graduate entrepreneurs. With the joint efforts of all parties, our employment rate remains stable compared to the same period last year, which demonstrates the strength and resilience of Shenzhen University, and is also an important source of confidence for the entire society.

After this battle, we should have confidence in our country, city and in everyone who has dreams and braves danger. We are on the land where the coronavirus has been largely brought under control and social order has been rapidly restored. Professor Li Xiaopeng gave uphis full-timejob in the United States andchose tojoin Shenzhen University. Due to the outbreak, he had to change his itinerary more than 10 times and finally arrived yesterday after half a year. This is a journey beyond hardship. It is also a journey to realize dreams with the full confidence. You may be worried about employment, further studies and entrepreneurship, but many people in the world are preoccupied with life and death. Regardless of whether it is “Humans defeat the virus” or “Viruses let the humans off” in the end, we hope that the world will regain its vitality as soon as possible and that people can restart their long-waiting travel,such asstrolling through Havana with a mojito.

Dear class of 2020, you must be sad that the year did not end as you had expected, missing precious moments with your classmates and a traditional graduating ceremony. But class of 2020, while experiencing a global crisis, you are facing historical opportunities. Looking back on the magnificent journey of human civilization, a new round of important historical progress always comes after the major global crisis. Your character and knowledge has been tested and you prove to be resilient and adaptable to take the next step. You are showing the world what it means to be a SZUer, and we are all so proud of you.

Dear class of 2020, stay safe and healthy. SZU is not a hollow set of concepts but a community comprised ofreal lives. You are a lifetime member of the SZU community,and we will always stand by your side. The SZU communityis not only of all of us, but also of each of us.

Dear class of 2020, the road ahead is long. Whenever you cannot find the meaning of life or get lost in the dark, the SZU values will always be the brightest star in the night sky to illuminate your life journey! Congratulations again and goodbye.