Building a Cultural Bridge with the Chinese Language as the Medium
Speech by H.E. Ambassador Sun Weidong in “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition in India
4 August 2021
Distinguished guests, judges and candidates,
Dear teachers and students,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honor to attend the award ceremony of the 20th CHINESE BRIDGE – Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign University Students in India.
Just now, we watched the students’ talent show in the competition through a recorded live video. Through the video, I truly felt your enthusiasm for learning Chinese language, China and the Chinese culture, and got to know the hard work you made. I heard that judges and candidates overcame many difficulties in order to better participate in the competition due to the impact of the pandemic and limited local internet conditions. After listening to your speeches, I am deeply moved and very happy. I was moved by your “commitment” and was happy to see the hope and strength between China and India to work together to promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges and mutual learning.
Here, I would like to congratulate on the success of the “Chinese Bridge” competition in India and congratulate Shan Hui from Mumbai University on winning the competition and all the contestants on achieving good results based on their hard work. I also would like to give a thumb up to the students for their efforts in learning Chinese, and colleges and universities for promoting Chinese education!
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the “Chinese Bridge” competition. The “Chinese Bridge” series of Chinese proficiency competitions are important platforms for young students from all over the world to learn Chinese and understand China. Known as the “Olympics” of Chinese language, it has become an important brand event for international cultural exchanges, attracting millions of young people from more than 120 countries.
The past twenty years have been a journey of remarkable achievements. The “Chinese Bridge” has built a bridge of culture and friendship connecting the hearts between China and young people from all over the world. Together with Confucius Institutes and Chinese Language teaching centers around the world, the “Chinese Bridge” has made important contributions to promoting people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and other countries and the development of diverse and colorful world civilizations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out that “language is the best key to understanding a country”. We know that language is a bridge for people to communicate. Chinese is one of the most beautiful languages in the world as well as the most-spoken one. It is the crystallization of the Chinese civilization of several thousand years with extensive and profound connotation.
The beauty of Chinese language lies in its form, structure and rhythm. Every sound, stroke, word and sentence have its own story. In the process of learning Chinese, I hope you will learn to appreciate the Chinese language and its profound cultural heritage. Some foreign friends say that Chinese is difficult to learn. It shows that those who learn Chinese have great courage and wisdom. Only after learning Chinese, you will know the connotations contained in the Chinese characters. For example, the Chinese character “人” which means “people” consists of two supporting strokes, showing people need to support each other. The Chinese character “大” which means “big or great” is like the Chinese character “人” opening arms. This means people opening arms are of great vision. The Chinese character “天” is like “人” standing against the sky. That’s why it has the meaning of “sky”. The Chinese character “信” means “trust”. Its left side is “人” and the right side “言” which means “words”. When the two parts are put together, it means people keeping their words win trust. You can understand the philosophy at first glance.
After learning and knowing Chinese, you will know that “July” in traditional Chinese calendar can also be called Qiaoyue (month of Qixi Festival), Xinqiu (New Autumn), and Lanyue (month of orchid). In Chinese calligraphy, we often spoke of “力透紙背” which means the strength of writing penetrates to the back of the paper. Chinese calligraphy focuses on strength and character, which shows one’s image and personality. After learning and knowing Chinese, one could understand the sentiment and artistic conception contained in the Chinese poem “From the threads a mother’s hands weaves, A gown for parting son is made” and “Such kindness as young grass receives, From the warm sun can’t be repaid”.
There are many examples like this. There is no other language in the world that can create so much beauty with just two thousand commonly used characters. When you try to learn Chinese, you will feel China, understand China better, and even fall in love with China.
The “Chinese Bridge” held in India is to build this “beautiful bridge” between China and India. We are both building and walking on this bridge that connects the youth and people of China and India. It provides an important platform for students and people of our two countries to understand each other and connect their hearts.
The “Chinese Bridge” competition, with the theme of “One world, One Family”, embodies the concept of “a community with a shared future for mankind” put forward by President Xi Jinping, and inherits the Chinese cultural tradition of harmony and peace in the Chinese nation.
President Xi Jinping pointed out, “In today’s world, the degree of interconnection and interdependence between countries has increased to an unprecedented level. Mankind lives in the same global village, living in the same spacetime where history and reality intersect, becoming a close-knit community of shared future”. He emphasized, “We must build a new type of international relations centered on win-win cooperation and build a community with a shared future for mankind.”
The great vision of a community with a shared future for mankind has absorbed the world view of “achieving universal peace” and “the world is one family” in traditional Chinese culture, the value of “paramount importance of peace”, and “seeking harmony without uniformity”, the equity concept of “the world is for the public and all nations are living together in peace”, the justice and interests concept of “put righteousness first, uphold justice while pursuing shared interests”, and the nature concept of “unity of man and nature” and “follow nature’s course”. These concepts contain the essence of China’s fine traditional culture and represents a major contribution of Chinese culture to the world. They fit with the vision of people around the world for peace and development.
We mankind have only one homeland, the Earth. At present, the international landscape and global governance system are evolving rapidly. Security, development, and the environment have become important topics. The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 has raged the globe, highlighting that the future and destiny of all countries are closely linked. The common challenges we face continue to remind people of the truth that “the world is one family”.
We need global cooperation and cross-cultural knowledge and communication skills to address global governance challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic. People are deeply aware that it is our common responsibility to cultivate a young generation with a global vision, a global mindset and cross-language and cross-cultural competence. We have enhanced our understanding of the importance to strengthen language education, deepen international cooperation, and work together to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
The theme of “One World, One Family” deeply reveals the importance for all countries worldwide to work hand-in-hand. It is also an important reference for China and India to create a new future of development.
China and India enjoy profound cultural exchanges and a long history of friendly exchanges. In history, many monks and merchants traveled to each other’s countries along the Silk Road, promoting the eastward spread of Buddhism and trade links, and writing an epic story of friendly exchanges between the two countries. Famous Chinese monks Faxian and Xuanzang traveled to the West to seek Buddhist Dharma, with masterworks left behind. Eminent Indian monks Dharmaratna and Kasyapa Matanga brought Buddhist scriptures and statues on a white horse and introduced Buddhism to China. Monk Bodhidharma crossed the Yangtze River on a reed to found Chan Buddhism at Shaolin Temple in China.
Since modern times, China and India have helped each other in the struggle for national liberation and independence and forged a profound friendship. The sages such as Tagore, Dr. Kotnis, and Tan Yunshan have left beautiful stories of people-to-people and cultural exchanges, solidarity and mutual assistance between China and India. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, jointly advocated by China and India, have become the basic norms governing international relations. This is the crystallization of wisdom that China and India have jointly contributed to the world.
In the competition, many candidates gave speeches with the theme of “One World, One Family”. They mentioned that China and India are like brothers. We are two ancient civilizations in the world and neighbors linked by mountains and rivers. Sometimes we have differences, but a near neighbor is more helpful than a distant relative. We should uphold the concept of “One World, One Family”, which enables China’s vision for “universal peace” and India’s “Brahman is Atman” to complement each other. We should carry forward the tradition of friendly exchanges between the two countries, focus on cooperation, increase mutual trust, seek common development, and jointly create a bright future for China and India. I would like to express my deep appreciation to the students for their strong commitment to China-India friendship.
Dear teachers, students, and friends,
On July 1st, we solemnly celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. President Xi Jinping announced that China has realized the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and we have brought about a historic resolution to absolute poverty in China. A hundred years is only a brief moment in human history, but it has brought earth-shaking and profound changes to Chinese society. Under the leadership of the CPC, we will start a new journey to build China into a great modern socialist country in all respects and sound the horn to march toward the second centenary goal. We are working towards the goal of realizing people’s aspirations for a better life. China’s development will provide unlimited opportunities for the world.
As two major emerging economies, China and India are both making unremitting efforts to improve people’s living standards. There is huge potential for mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides, which serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples. In recent years, the number of Indians going to China for business or study has increased significantly, and the demand of Indian friends to learn Chinese has been growing, creating a round of “Chinese wave”. At present, more than 20 colleges and universities in India offer Chinese courses, providing both academic and non-academic education. Various Chinese language training centers have sprung up, and many young Indian friends go to the classroom to learn Chinese. To learn Chinese well is to seize opportunities and embrace the future.
The Chinese government always attaches great importance to the educational and cultural exchanges and cooperation between China and India, and is committed to providing facilitation for more young Indian students to study in China. The Chinese Embassy in India will continue to provide support. I hope that you will continue to work hard on Chinese language and more Indian youths will learn Chinese and get to know more about China. If you want to know more about China and the Chinese people, you can start with the history of the Communist Party of China. This is very helpful to understand China’s past, present and future. I hope all of you will become cultural ambassadors to promote China-India friendship, jointly practice “One World, One Family” and contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to teachers and university leaders for their efforts and dedication in teaching Chinese and spreading Chinese culture in India and thanks to Indian friends from all walks of life for their strong support.
I would like to congratulate once again on the complete success of this event! I wish you all happiness in your study and work and wish our candidate great success in the global finals!