On 16 October 2020, Chinese Ambassador Ma Jianchun addressed 27 Gambian students who were newly admitted to Chinese universities through the 2020-2021 Chinese Government Scholarship program.
The following is Ambassador Ma’s speech script.
“Dear Chinese Government Scholarship winners,
I am pleased to address you through this video at the beginning of your first academic year.
In each of the past few years at this time, we bid farewell to new students before their departure to China, but this year sees some difference due to the global COVID-19 situation. It is impossible to start the new semester like before because of widely ongoing restrictions and scarcity of flights. Now many higher education institutions in China are looking for interim solutions to conduct teaching and research activities for international students outside China at the moment.
Such challenge is only one of the aspects brought about by COVID-19, which has made the year 2020 completely different from the past.
At the beginning of the year, we identified infected patients of a novel pneumonia in Wuhan city, and took prompt measures to find out its cause — which turned out to be the novel coronavirus. China transparently shared information with the international community in the shortest time possible, and meanwhile started a nationwide campaign to fight against the epidemic. China’s leadership headed by H.E. President Xi Jinping attach utmost importance to people’s lives, mobilized resources across the whole nation, and rapidly put COVID-19 under control in China. Today, people in China have resumed normal life. And some of your peers studying in China have been returning to the classrooms for the new academic year.
During this painstaking process, Chinese government and people made historic sacrifices, and have been contributing tremendously to the anti-COVID-19 battles of other countries, including The Gambia. We have donated nine batches of critically-needed medical supplies to The Gambia so far, shared multiple times the most updated technical experiences in fighting COVID-19 with Gambian health authorities and experts, and have been doing our best to keep implementing China-Gambia cooperation programs, including the Chinese Government Scholarship program. Now I am more than happy to see that you have won the coveted scholarship successfully. I would like to express my congratulations to all of you!
Dear scholarship winners,
Since the year 2016, over 150 Gambian students have been admitted to prestigious Chinese universities through Chinese Government Scholarship programs; some of them have successfully graduated and returned. Gambian students in China found cheers from teachers and peers for their hard work and active social engagement. For example, Fatou Tijan Jobe, who graduated from China’s renowned Tsinghua University earlier this year, she won Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award with her arduous in-depth research; Ebrima Barry, who studies in Wuhan city, worked shoulder to shoulder with his peer Chinese and foreign students as volunteers, and devoted to facilitating daily life of the student community when Wuhan was in the hardest time combating COVID-19 earlier this year.
Meanwhile, I frequently learned from Gambian students in China about their unique experiences and colorful life. They took part and won awards in various science and technical competitions, they formed a football team and played games with others, they visited various cities and cultural relics across China, and they observed their religious festivals in local mosques and churches.
And most important of all, they acquire knowledge and experience in their chosen specialities in China. Today, China has become a popular destination for tertiary education and research. China has advanced scientific and technological expertise, and is leading the world in some cutting-edge areas such as 5G information technologies, industrial internet, artificial intelligence, and so on. China also has abundant unique experience to share with those studying economy, social development, governance, and so on. For example, China managed to develop its economy from rather small to the second largest in the world in just a few decades; we brought over ten million Chinese people out of poverty every year since 2012, and by the end of this year we will achieve the alleviation of poverty under current standards for the whole nation.
Dear scholarship winners,
China today is more open to the rest of the world than any time before, and will continue to open its doors. By studying in China, you will enjoy access to all the know-how that I mentioned, including technology and experience. I believe this will not only benefit your own careers, but also the development of your country. And that is what China-Gambia cooperation is intended for: to achieve common prosperity, and to help build a China-Africa community with a shared future.
Just a few days ago, your formal admission letters have been delivered to the Embassy. My colleagues will distribute the documents to you early next week. Some of your schools have embarked on providing various forms of distant learning services for international students outside China, and that makes it possible to begin your courses even when traveling is temporarily impossible due to the pandemic. Before your final departure, the Chinese Embassy would continuously do our best to act as a bridge between you, the CSC, and your school, and support you in the ways that we can. I hope you could make full use of your online courses, and get well-prepared for your next-step study in China.
To conclude, I would like to quote some words that President Xi Jinping sent in an encouraging letter to some Chinese students three months ago. He wrote that “?????????????”, which translates as “those who do not get complacent by only pursuing easy targets are more likely to succeed, and those who do not shy away from challenges are more likely to make advancements”. While this year post so many challenges to us all, I am very confident that you will overcome them, and eventually make your success!