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Professor Justin Lin Receives Honorary PhD from the Open University of Hong Kong



On 15 December, The Open University of Hong Kong held its 24th graduation ceremony at the AsiaWorld Expo in Hong Kong. Peking University National School of Development Honorary Dean, Professor Justin Lin presided over the ceremony and gave a keynote speech. To commend his contributions to research and teaching in China’s Economic development as well as contributions to society, The Open University of Hong Kong bestowed an honorary PhD to Professor Lin. Alongside Professor Lin, the other recipients were former Hong Kong Institute of Education Dean Ruth Hayhoe, former Hong Kong Jockey Club Chair Thomas Brian Stevenson and President of the Hong Kong Legislative Council Tsang Yok-sing.

During the ceremony, Professor Lin made a speech on following dreams and patriotism. He encouraged each graduate to realize their dreams and, in building towards the “Chinese Dream”, to make Hong Kong even better. As long as each Hong Kong and mainland Chinese can align their dreams with the Chinese dream our society, country and people will be full of hope.

The Open University of Hong Kong was established by the Hong Kong government in 1989 as a new type of Open University. Since its inception, it has provided Hong Kong adults with high quality and flexible higher education opportunities and, more recently, has provided high school graduates with traditional face-to-face university courses.


Professor Lin’s Speech at The Open University of Hong Kong Graduation Ceremony :

Mr Pro-Chancellor, Council Chairman, Court Members, Council Members, the President, Honoured Guests, Graduates, all members of the University, Ladies and Gentlemen,On this important day, I would like to congratulate all the graduates and their family members. This is one of the sweetest days in your life. You have worked hard to come this far, and I am certain an even brighter future awaits you. Don’t hold back; chase your dreams!

Those of you graduating today are doing so at an opportune time because your dream overlaps with the dream of a stronger China. Hong Kong was ceded to Britain in 1840 after the Sino-British Opium War. This was a big blow to the confidence of the Chinese people. Since then, many intellectuals have long dreamt of the revival of China as a major world power. In the reforms of the 1980s, the Open Door policy was introduced. More than three decades later, this dream of revival is now much closer to reality. The “Chinese Dream” put forth by Chinese President Xi Jinping is our country’s dream, our nation’s dream, and the dream of all Chinese people. As university graduates, you will soon become the backbone of Hong Kong society and the contributing force to the revival of the Chinese nation, so it is important for you to pursue your dreams. If the Chinese Dream is to become a reality, all young people have to chase after their own dreams. And it is all these small yet important dreams which together make Hong Kong a better place and the Chinese Dream a reality.

As you, today’s graduates, start out in society, I have the following advice to share with you.

First, make sure your dream can become part of the Chinese Dream. Our future is intricately related to the dream of our nation. We should give back to society. All of us love the place we live and have developed a great feeling for it, so we should think about our nation when we are pursuing our dreams. In this way, our dreams will become even greater and more substantial.

Second, do not stop learning; become a lifelong learner. Knowledge and truth are things you should pursue tirelessly over your lifetime. In our world, change is something we cannot live without. There are a lot of new problems waiting for us to study and tackle. In 1932, Hu Shih, one of the leaders of China’s New Culture Movement and the former President of Peking University, addressed a group of university graduates: “When you enter society, what you have learnt in university may not be directly related to your work. You may even feel that the knowledge you have acquired is of no use. Despite this, you can find a decent job and earn a good living. Even those who used to have a strong desire for knowledge will become indifferent and lose interest in their quest for knowledge.” I believe what Mr Hu Shih said decades ago still holds true in our Internet age. And he has offered a solution to how we can maintain the drive in our quest for knowledge: “You have to look for some problems that interest you and find an interest that may not be directly related to your job. In this way, your mind can be filled with the fire of knowledge.” He added, “When you are not thinking about any problems in your mind, your mind will cease functioning and your intellectual life will come to an end.” In France, the 17th-century philosopher René Descartes said, “I think; therefore I am.” The quest for truth is a lifelong pursuit. We can never stop thinking, learning and putting our thoughts into practice. We need courage and perseverance. We should never cease to learn, and we should develop independent thinking whenever we can. We also have to put our ideas into practice and strive for excellence. Let us all become lifelong learners, always thinking hard and exploring the unknown.

Third, we should try our best even when facing a seemingly easy task. The great Chinese philosopher Xunzi once said, “Although the Way is close at hand, one cannot reach it without self-cultivation. Although a thing is by no means difficult, one cannot accomplish it without making an effort.” Great persons in history often started with the small things around them, and little by little they went on to do greater things. My advice for you is to start with the small things, try your very best in everything you do and put your heart and soul into it. Do small things in a great way. Easy tasks are not as easy as they seem. There is nothing which is really ordinary. If you can excel and find your worth in seemingly easy and ordinary things, it is a great achievement indeed. Don’t think that something is too small for you to bother with. If you can do your best in your daily work, you are contributing to the development of Hong Kong and China, and one day you will shine in your profession.

Fourth, you should persist because the road ahead of you is a long one. We need talents for social development, and Hong Kong and mainland China are at an important stage of development. There is a line in a famous Tang poem which says, “Silkworms spin till the end of their living days.” And all of us should think and act like a silkworm. We should have the courage to break the cocoon and become something greater and better. There is no shortcut to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. According to Mencius, the second sage of Confucianism, “When heaven is going to place a great responsibility on a man, it will test his resolve, exhaust his body, make him suffer from hunger and hardship, and frustrate his efforts.” When you’re young you are likely to make mistakes. In fact, mistakes are bound to happen when you’re not experienced. Don’t lose heart in the face of failure. In fact, failure is a necessary stepping stone to success.

Finally, I want to share with you something the President of China, Xi Jinping, said recently: “Youth comes but once in a lifetime. We should do our best when we are young. So many years later when we look back, we will taste the sweetest memory of our success. We work hard not just for ourselves but also for our people. If we have tried our best now, we will have no regrets in the future.”
As you set off on your long journey, I wish all of you great success. I hope all of your dreams will come true, and together we can make the Chinese Dream a reality!
Thank you very much!