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Opening speech of Tsinghua University Forum on “One Hundred Years of Tsinghua, a Century of China Model in the Making”, 20.04.2011

“Director and Spokesman of Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference H.E. Zhao,

Director of Information Center of the Communist Party of China H.E. Wang,

Dean Li,

Deputy Secretary-General Zhou,

Distinguished Scholars,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s a distinct privilege and honour to be part of Tsinghua University’s Centenary Celebrations. Tsinghua University is among the world’s premier universities with an alumni body which is the envy of many institutions of higher education.

This university is the beacon of enlightenment and is also a shining example for other Chinese universities with 12% of its students coming from overseas, rising academic citations and generous scholarships in diverse fields.

At the outset I would like to emphasize that a country’s development cannot be isolated from the development of its educational institutions. Universities fuel growth and innovation of countries, they serve as important vehicles for soft power.

This elite university is a living example of this fact. Its success mirrors the rise of the Chinese nation. Tsinghua University through its distinguished student body, both past and present, has a big role to play in the China Model.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am humbled with the invitation to share my views on the China Model. But I am not an expert, I am a mere observer. And this is not going to be one of the standard speeches that you can hear from an ambassador. I am going to be candid. I have to forewarn you, I am slightly passionate about this subject. The fundamental reason for this is when I look at China, I see my own country Turkey.

The first question that comes to mind is why is the China Model is so successful? According to my observations;

a) The fundamental factors are; diligence and resilience of the Chinese people, China’s long history and its deep culture.

b) This is coupled with another very important factor which is essential, the visionary leadership.

c) The China Model is above all homegrown and based on local dynamics.

d) Furthermore, the Chinese people possess entrepreneurial skills.

e) The society and economy bloom with commercial vitality and therefore are adaptable to changing conditions.

f) Another important contributor is the rapidly growing human resources with professional and linguistic skills.

g) Also, the private sector’s agility acting in a very competitive environment plays a substantial role.

h) Moreover the state owned enterprises are managed in an efficient way as the market forces would dictate.

i) What is as important is that China is not an introverted but an extraverted country with a considerable global experience.

j) Last but not least, China both in words and deeds adheres to the principle of sovereign equality of states and the resolution of conflicts through peaceful means.

We have to recognize that the China Model has the potential to inspire. It is not dogmatic, it is moldable. It has an impressive track record filled with concrete examples of success which is emulated by a number of other developing nations.

Just briefly on the quantifiable success:

China has come a long way since its opening up more than 30 years ago. Today it is the second largest economy with a growth rate of 10.6% in 2010 and a per capita GDP of 4.394 US $ as of 2010. In 1979 this figure was a mere 270 US $.

No matter what the others may say, this is an outstanding exemplary performance. There are obviously many more statistical figures to be mentioned. But I will spare you from it.

What kind of political environment is facing us?

In today’s world there is both a covert and overt wrangling between various forms of governance. This competition can be viewed as a healthy process, however, it should be recognized that no single formula holds the answer to all the challenges of our contemporary pluralistic and complex societies.

The diversity in approaches shaped by the dynamics of individual states enriches our ever changing political, economic and cultural environment. The China Model recognizes these aspects.

How is the China Model viewed?

China’s model, while followed closely by many, is not always explained and analyzed all that accurately. At times those who study the Chinese model with ulterior motives cast a negative light on it.

However China’s “3 S” powers, namely soft, smart and subtle powers cannot be obstructed. The new and rapid means of communication are indispensable in our technologically savvy times. This provides us the attainability of accurate information and gives us the opportunity to double check disinformation.

Close to 400 million people who have been saved from the poverty line speak for themselves.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have been the Turkish Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China for the past 2 years. During this time, like many of my colleagues, I travelled wide and deep in this country.

So far I have visited 36 cities from north to south, east to west, many of them several times. I spoke to people from different walks of life, either directly or through an interpreter. I have been to big metropolis as well as to small towns and villages.

I must admit, I still have a lot to cover but my personal observation is that the China Model is successful, it is realistic, it is pragmatic, it sets targets that China no doubt will reach. This is because, as H.E. Zhao Qizheng has rightly pointed out in his illuminating new book entitled “The China Model”, the country’s development proceeds from the people’s needs and adheres to a comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable path.

One of the strengths of the Chinese Model is also the modesty of its architects and implementers. I have not met any official yet who even remotely has hinted any inclination towards resting on the past laurels.

Nevertheless, it is an historic fact that for the past 20 centuries, 18 of which has seen a prominent position of the Chinese civilization.

Today’s Chinese Model is an effective way towards normalization of history as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu once said.

There is this “phrase” which pops up once in a while after high-level meetings and it goes roughly as the following: “China has to resume its global responsibility”. Is this a form of recognizing China’s global status or is this a stratagem to pull China to the eye of the political or cultural storms that China had neither expressed nor tacit responsibility of creating. Of course it is up to the leaders to make a judgment on that. Yet China still extends a handful hand to those who are in need.

Unfortunately there is thanklessness towards China’s critical role to pull out the global economic system from the 2008 crisis. There is not only lack of recognition but also a lot of unjust criticism such as currency exchange issues.

As someone who has studied economics at one point, this criticism is unwarranted, artificial and dangerous. Dangerous, because as the President of the World Bank Mr. Zoellick pointed out just a couple of days ago, the world is only one shock away from another major crisis.

We are still in treacherous waters, we are still vulnerable and conditions are volatile. Under these circumstances the China Model becomes even more prevalent.

The other question is: Is the China Model perfect?

My answer to that question is: no human model is perfect.

Over the past 2 years the deliberations of the NPC and CPPCC showed me that the Chinese leadership is also aware of this. The reports of Premier H.E. Wen Jiabao make this absolutely clear. This is exactly why China with its 12th Five Year Plan shifted its focus from production to innovation and more people oriented policies.

As Deng Xiaoping pointed out, China is still feeling the stones while crossing the river.

With these thoughts I would like to thank once again for the opportunity to speak to this preeminent audience and wish all the best to Tsinghua University and the People’s Republic of China, of whose bright future I am very confident.

Xie xie dajia!”