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Speech by Consul General Zhao Jian at the Centennial Colloquium on Dewey: Then and Now
2019/05/11

President Zimmer,

Director Abelmann,

Professor Heckman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure for me to join you at this Centennial Colloquium on Dewey. First of all, on behalf of the Chinese Consulate General in Chicago, I would like to extend our congratulations on the opening of this event !

Mr. Dewey was a well-known philosopher and educator of the 20th century. One hundred years ago, he visited China for two years and two months, during which he visited 13 provinces and cities and gave nearly 200 lectures. His education thoughts were well received and widely shared in China.

At the same time, the long-standing history and rich culture of China and its endeavor for social changes in the early 20th century also deeply influenced Mr. Dewey. His arrival in China coincided with the start of the May 4th Movement, a milestone event in China’s modern history that Mr. Dewey found profoundly thought-provoking and inspiring. He was sympathetic to the Chinese people effort for national independence, unity and prosperity. During his more than two-year stay in China, he forged a deep attachment to China and the Chinese people and heavily engaged in the promotion of cultural exchanges between China and the West.

Today, one hundred years on, Dewey’s education thoughts are still influencing education debates in China. In the meantime, the China-U.S. friendship that he cared about and supported has taken root in the hearts of the people. This year marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the United States. Over the past 40 years, our bilateral relations have gone through a lot and made historic progress. Now China and the U.S. are each other’s largest trading partners. In 2018, more than 5.3 million people traveled between our two countries, the number of Chinese students studying in the U.S. exceeded 400 thousand and that of U.S. students in China exceeded 20 thousand. Moreover, 50 friendly province-state and 227 sister-city relationships have been established between our two sides.

The University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, the host of our meeting today, have also maintained close cooperation with China. Since becoming President of UChicago, Mr. Zimmer has been actively promoting education cooperation between our two countries. In 2010, the UChicago Center in Beijing was opened, providing an important platform for academic and student exchanges between this university and China. Under the leadership of Director Albelmann, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools has also established good cooperative relations with Chinese schools such as the High School Affiliated to Renmin University.

Here, I would like to take this opportunity to pay high respect to you and all those who have long made positive contributions to the educational and people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States.

China is the largest developing country in the world, the U.S. the largest developed country in the world. Our relations not only directly affect the well-being of our two peoples, but also bear on world peace, stability and prosperity. A sound China-U.S. relationship serves the fundamental interests of our two peoples, and it is also what is widely expected of us by the international community. Mr. Dewey’s China story tells us that exchanges between China and the United States are beneficial to the people of the two countries, and, through exchanges, we can learn from each other to mutual benefit and achieve common development.

Both China and the United States are great nations. We both have an open and inclusive culture. Although we now live in a very different era than 100 or 40 years ago, the aspiration of our people for greater mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation has not changed and will not change. Since my arrival in Chicago, I have deeply felt the enthusiasm of the Midwestern states for increasing exchanges and cooperation with China. The Chinese Consulate General in Chicago stands ready to work with the University of Chicago and all of you present here to further promote the people-to-people exchanges in education and other fields and contribute more to the development of China-U.S. relations.

To conclude, I wish the Colloquium a complete success.

Thank you.

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