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French Prime Minister Ayrault Visits Wuhan University

Published: 2013-12-07 Source: Journal of Wuhan University issue number: 6452

French Prime Minister Jean Mark Ayrault visited WHU on the 7th of December, as reported by our correspondent (reporter Yan Hang). Prime Minister Ayrault made a speech at the old library on top of the Cherry Hill. The delegation visiting Wu Da was composed of Prime Minister Ayrault, the former French Prime Minister, 5 French ministers, the French ambassador to China, the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun, vice governor of Hubei province Gan Rongkun, President Li Xiaogong, vice president of Feng Youmei and nearly 200 students to listen to the speech.

The French delegation showed up at 15:00, driving at a slow pace through the campus. A cheerful crowd composed of students and teachers had already gathered to meet him. Ayrault came out of the vehicle and shook hands with the students before going in the building.

WHU’s President, Li Xiaogong after a brief exchange inside the old library’s lounge accompanied the French PM to the platform. The hall immediately sounded a warm applause.

In his welcoming remarks, Mr. Li Xiaogong described the process of cooperation between Wuhan University’s and France, and reaffirmed the desire for Wuhan University to develop friendly cooperation with scientific research institutions and French universities. He mentioned exchanges between Wu Da and French academia can be traced back to 1896 and again, during a period of intense academic cooperation, in 1980’s. The collaboration between Paris Polytechnic Institute and Wu Da has a long tradition and has intensified is years following the Chinese reform and opening up policy. Wu Da cooperates with 40 more French universities, hospitals and research institutions. Until now, Wuhan University has trained tens of thousands of French professional talent. A large number of teachers have made great contributions to the Sino-French cultural and educational exchange. At least 10 WHU teachers have been awarded by the French government and at least 5 in French teachers working for WHU have received the Hubei province "Chime Bell Award".

PM Ayrault took to the stage, making his speech in French. The PM noticed the students were not wearing headphones and he made a witty remark which amused the audience: "In front of the students are not wearing headphones, it seems you can understand French."

Subsequently, PM Ayrault reviewed the Sino-French origin, saying: "in 1964, General De Gaulle established diplomatic relations between France and China, in today's context this was an excellent long term decision."

The Chinese experienced a far-reaching reform, achieving so much in a short while, their achievements inspire people everywhere, the French PM also pointed out. In his opinion, the reform leads to the economic development of China and bears the state responsibility and compliance, meeting with the French views. PM Ayrault described today's world as faced by three big challenges: the maintenance of peace and stability; the establishment of a new international order; the protection of the earth. He called for all of these problems to be solved in a joint effort by the international community. PM Ayault also emphasized the importance of youth and young students, whom he called the masters of the future world, encouraging them to solve these problems, using their ambition and determination.

When it comes to learning French, Mr Ayrault said, French is one of the oldest languages, is also the world's five largest universal languages, "so many WHU students are fluent in French, I think, this is the basis for our understanding, sharing and communication," Mr Ayrault said. "Many people are keen on learning about Chinese civilization, history and essence, and this interest is encouraged by the French government." He cited the phrase "Their natures are much the same”, by Confucius and pointed out we should cherish friendly relations between the two countries, and jointly promote the cause of peace.

Ayrault’s discourse won repeated warm applause. A student asked, why is economic, trade cooperation and cultural cooperation so important? Ayrault answered, "the two are inseparable, and promote each other."

"Exchanges in culture, education and science are the core content of the Sino French cooperation. Here is the founder of new history; we'd like you to study in France!" Mr Ayrault said. 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and France will occur next year. France will offer 300 multi field academic exchanges with China. At the same time, a number of concerts and artistic events will be organized in China and France, giving chance to artists in both countries to meet and exchange ideas. "Please believe, the French government will allow enterprises to remember, culture is the development and the force of the future, he said.

After the speech, Mr Ayrault took a group photo with the students in the old library, and later visited the South Hospital and the well equipped emergency center, expressing sympathy for the medical staff.

(Photography: Zhang Ran editor: Li Xiaokun)

Updated December the 12th 2013