Right Time to Innovate and Make Dreams Come True

Xi Jinping: The Governance of China I Updated: 2021-12-03

Right Time to Innovate and Make Dreams Come True* 

October 21, 2013 

Completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, accelerating socialist modernization and achieving China's great rejuvenation, this is a glorious cause with a bright and splendid future. All people who are dedicated to this worthy cause can expect to accomplish great deeds. With hundreds of millions of fellow Chinese marching in their ranks, the Chinese students and scholars studying abroad are deciding that this is the right time to innovate and make their life-long dreams come true. You are called upon to integrate your patriotic love, your aspiration to make the country strong and your actions to serve it, and link your dreams with the stupendous efforts of your fellow countrymen to turn the Chinese Dream into reality, and by doing so have your names recorded in the annals of China's great renewal. 

Here I would like to propose four points as my hope for Chinese students and scholars studying abroad. 

First, I hope you will adhere to patriotism. China's history stretches over thousands of years, and patriotism has always been a stirring theme and a powerful force inspiring the Chinese of all ethnic groups to carry on and excel. No matter how long the shadow it may cast, the tree strikes deep roots in soil forever. No matter where they are, Chinese students should always keep the home country and its people in their hearts. Qian Xuesen2 once said, "As a Chinese scientist, I live to serve the people. I hope the people are satisfied with the work I have done in my lifetime. Their approval will be my highest reward."

I hope that you will carry forward the glorious tradition of studying hard to serve the country and be defenders and messengers of patriotism, always bearing in mind the ideal of "being the first to worry about the affairs of the state and the last to enjoy oneself,"3 always taking the wellbeing of the country, the nation and the people as the goal of your endeavors, and willingly associating the fruits of personal success with the evergreen tree of patriotism. The Party and the country respect the choice you make. If you decide to return, we will welcome you with open arms. If you decide to stay abroad, we will support you in serving the country in various ways. All of you should remember that wherever you are you are a member of the Chinese family; the country and the people back home always care about their sons and daughters, and your homeland is always a warm spiritual land for you. 

Second, I hope you will study hard. Learning is a lasting theme for one to conduct oneself in life and society. It is also an important basis for one to serve one's country and people. A dream starts with learning, and careers with practice. In the world today, knowledge and information are quickly updated, and if one slackens even a little in study, one is likely to fall behind. Some say that the world is a circle for everyone, with the amount of knowledge as the radius. He who has a bigger radius has a broader scope to act within. 

I hope that you will orient yourselves to modernization, to the whole world and to the future, and aim to broaden your knowledge in advanced knowhow, technologies and management expertise. You should keep the perseverance and diligence in reading as related in stories of Confucius4, Sun Jing and Su Qin5, Kuang Heng6, and Che Yin and Sun Kang7. You should learn by reading and from other people's practical experiences with equal devotion, temper your moral character, and make yourselves competent and well-versed in genuine skills. Those who have completed their study programs need to broaden their horizon, renew their knowledge promptly, improve their knowledge structure, and make themselves outstanding talented people capable of assuming heavy responsibilities and accomplishing great deeds. 

Third, I hope you will be more innovative and creative. Innovation is the soul of a nation's progress, the inexhaustible force enhancing a country's prosperity, and indeed the profound endowment of the Chinese nation. Against the backdrop of international competition, only those who innovate can make progress, grow stronger and prevail. Students and scholars studying abroad have a broad vision, and they ought to take the lead in making innovations. China's reform, opening-up and modernization drive provide all ambitious pioneers of innovation with a wide stage for success. 

I hope you will throw yourselves into extensive efforts of innovation and creation, and dare to lead the way forward with vision, courage and stamina, so that you can succeed in making breakthroughs and achievements. Trying to accomplish something in China, one must set oneself firmly on the soil of the home country, keep in mind the expectations of the people, correctly identify the point where one's professional strength and the needs of social development converge and where advanced knowledge and China's conditions meet. Only in this way can innovation and creativity succeed and deliver real benefits. 

Fourth, I hope you will work for dynamic exchanges with other countries. China cannot develop without the rest of the world; nor can the world as a whole prosper without China. We must open still wider to the outside world, strengthening our connectivity and interaction with it, and enhancing our understanding and friendship with other peoples. Growing up in China and living overseas extensively, you have been steeped in inter-personal relationships and cross-cultural communications. Many foreigners have got to know China through you while many Chinese have learned about the outside world also through you. 

I hope you will make full use of your advantages to strengthen connections and exchanges between China and other countries, acting as unofficial ambassadors to promote people-to-people friendship, and explaining China's culture, history and points of view in such a way that the people from other countries can understand and identify with China, and be ready to give it greater appreciation and support. 

Founded 100 years ago when the survival of the nation was at stake, the Western Returned Scholars Association practiced patriotism by organizing its members to participate in patriotic and democratic movements and join the cause for national salvation and people's liberation, thus becoming a famous patriotic association for democracy and science at that time. After the People's Republic was founded in 1949, the Association became a progressive association under the leadership of the Party and government by vigorously encouraging the return of Chinese students abroad. Since the beginning of China's reform and opening up, the Association has energetically carried out the "serve the country program," making itself a people's organization dedicated to socialism with Chinese characteristics. In 2003, with approval from the central authorities, the Association was given an additional name – the Chinese Overseas-educated Scholars Association – with its scope of operation expanded to cover the entire country and its members spreading all over the world. Its influence as a people's organization has thus become more extensive. 

Facing a new situation and new tasks, the Western Returned Scholars Association and Chinese Overseas-educated Scholars Association must give full play to its advantages as a people's organization and part of the United Front with prominent intellectuals as its members, based in China while reaching out overseas to turn itself into a talent pool in the service of the country, a think tank of good ideas and proposals and a vital force in people-to-people diplomacy; and strive to become a bridge between the Party and the overseas students and scholars, an assistant in the work of the Party and government towards them, and a warm home to rally overseas students and scholars closely around the Party. The Association should care for the work, study and life of overseas Chinese students and scholars, reflect their wishes and views, protect their lawful rights and interests, and constantly enhance the Association's appeal and cohesion. 

"Exaltation of the virtuous is fundamental to governance."8 Party committees and governments at all levels must earnestly implement Party and government policies concerning students and scholars studying abroad, and train more effectively and on a larger scale all kinds of talented people badly needed by our reform, opening up and modernization. When the environment is sound, talented people will gather, and our cause will thrive; but when it is not, they will go their separate ways, and our cause will fail. We must improve our working mechanisms, and enhance the awareness of service, strengthen education and guidance, build more platforms of innovation, be good at finding, uniting with and using talented people, and help bring forth people of high caliber by creating an environment favorable for the students to return and serve China, and in general to realize their potential. We should support the Association in its work by strengthening its organization, improving its working apparatus and personnel, and providing the necessary conditions for its operation. 

In the course of its development and opening up, China needs still more overseas talented people and welcomes their arrival with open arms. Empty talk harms the country, while hard work makes it flourish. We are convinced that as long as students and scholars studying abroad remember this and choose to stand and work with the people, they will surely write a brilliant page in the book of the Chinese Dream, a page that is worthy of our times, of our people and of history. 


Part of the speech at the centenary celebration of the Western Returned Scholars Association1.


1  The Western Returned Scholars Association was founded in October 1913. It is a voluntary group composed of Chinese scholars who have returned to China after studying overseas. In 2003 it was given the additional name of the Chinese Overseas-educated Scholars Association. 

2  Qian Xuesen (1911-2009) went to study in the United States in 1935, and returned to China in 1955. He was directly involved in the organization and guidance of the research and development of China's carrier rockets, missiles and satellites, and made an outstanding contribution to China's space development.

3  Fan Zhongyan: The Yueyang Tower. Fan Zhongyan (989-1052) was a statesman and literary scholar of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). 

4  Confucius is said to have read The Book of Changes (Yi Jing) so many times that the leather strings binding the bamboo slips upon which the book was written broke several times. 

5  Sun Jing of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) loved reading. He tied his hair to a roof beam to prevent himself from falling asleep when reading. Su Qin of the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) poked himself in the thigh with an awl to keep him from dropping off when studying at night. These stories are used to describe studious persons. 

6  Kuang Heng of the Han Dynasty studied hard when young, but he could not afford candles. So he bored a hole in a wall to make use of a neighbor's light to study by. This metaphor is used to describe a studious person. 

7  Che Yin of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420) was too poor to afford lamp oil. He caught dozens of fireflies and placed them in a bag made of thin white cloth so that he could study by their light at night. Sun Kang of the Southern Dynasties (420-589) could not afford candles, so he had to read by the reflected light from snow on winter nights. These stories are used to describe studious persons. 

8 Mo Zi, a collection of works of the Mohist school of thought.

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