The following is the full text of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's speech at the University of Cambridge on Monday.
See China in the Light of Her Development
Speech at the University of Cambridge
Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
2 February 2009
Vice Chancellor Alison Richard,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to come to Cambridge, a world-renowned university that I have long wanted to visit. Cambridge has produced many great scientists and thinkers – Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Francis Bacon, to name but a few, and made important contribution to the progress of human civilization. This year marks the 800th anniversary of the university. Please accept my warm congratulations.
This is my fourth visit to your country. Despite the great distance between China and Britain, the friendly exchanges between our peoples have been on the rise. The successful resolution of the question of Hong Kong and fruitful cooperation between our two countries in areas such as economy, trade, culture, education, science and technology have cemented the foundation of our comprehensive strategic partnership. Here, I wish to pay high tribute to all those who have been working tirelessly to promote friendly ties between our two countries.
The title of my speech today is "See China in the Light of Her Development".
My beloved motherland is a country both old and young.
She is old, because she is a big Oriental country with a civilization stretching back several thousand years. With diligence and wisdom, the Chinese nation created a splendid civilization and made significant contributions to the progress of humanity.
She is young, because the People’s Republic is just 60 years old, and the country began reform and opening-up only 30 years ago. The Chinese people established the New China after unremitting struggles and ultimately found a development path suited to China’s national conditions through painstaking efforts. This is the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Following this path, our ancient civilization has been rejuvenated.
The key element of China’s reform and opening-up is to free people’s mind and the most fundamental and significant component is institutional innovation. Through economic reform, we have built a socialist market economy, where the market plays a primary role in allocating resources under government macro-regulation. We have carried out political reform, promoted democracy and improved the legal system. People are the masters of the country. We run the country according to law and endeavor to build a socialist country under the rule of law.
The essence of China’s reform and opening-up is to put people first and meet their ever growing material and cultural needs through releasing and developing productive forces. It aims to give everyone equal opportunities for all-round development. It aims to protect the democratic rights of the people and promote stability, harmony and prosperity across the land. And it aims to safeguard the dignity and freedom of everyone so that he or she may pursue happiness with ingenuity and hard work.
Over the past three decades, more than 200 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty, the average life expectancy has increased by 5 years, and the 83 million people with disabilities in China have received special care from the government and the society. All this points to the tremendous efforts China has made to protect human rights. We have introduced free nine-year compulsory education throughout the country, established the cooperative medical system in the rural areas and improved the social safety net. The age-old dream of the Chinese nation is being turned into reality – a dream to see the young educated, the sick treated and the old cared for.
I want to quote from a Tang Dynasty poem to describe what is happening in China, "From shore to shore it is wide at high tide, and before fair wind a sail is lifting." The Chinese people are working hard to modernize their country. This is a great practice in a large developing country both ancient and new. The Chinese people, with destiny in their own hands, are full of confidence in their future.
My beloved motherland is a country that stood numerous vicissitudes but never gave up.