CCP Leaders Commemorate May 4

Danwei.org links to, and summarizes, a Southern Metro Daily report on the visit of Premier Wen Jiabao to Beijing University on May 4, setting the scene as follows:

Yesterday was the 91st anniversary of the hallowed May 4th Movement, which according to the government-backed version of history, marks a significant transition point of Chinese revolution: Gone was “old democratic revolution”; in came the “new democratic revolution”.

In 1949, following the establishment of PRC, May 4 was proclaimed China’s Youth Day. Today’s Southern Metropolis Daily runs a story on the front page reporting on Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Peking University (also called PKU and Beida). The university was a hotbed for progressive ideas at that time and its students played an active role in what started as a small-scale protest against the Versailles treaty’s failure to acknowledge China’s status and eventually evolved into a nationwide outrage towards the unpopular Beiyang junta that was controlling China.

According to the report, after the Premier had lunch with the students, they exchanged calligraphy works: the students sent the Premier four characters “仰望星空” meaning “look at the starry heavens”, a reference borrowed from Wen’s favorite Kant quote “Two things fill me with constantly increasing admiration and awe, the starry heavens without and the moral law within.” To this the Premier replied with another four characters “脚踏实地” which means “stand on solid ground”.

This is rich stuff, all the more so when one recalls that the Beijing University was also a wellspring of student protest in May-June 1989.

Although Danwei doesn’t mention it, Hu Jintao gets top billing in the article, even turning his own  clunky inspirational phrase “write a beautiful human life / 书写美好人生,” which I take to mean “you’re the master of your own destiny, build a better life (and by extension a stronger China)”.  As always, reader comments on the phrase and its rendering into English are welcomed.

Here, without further ado, is the text of the article dealing with General Secretary Hu:

Hu Jintao Replies to China Agricultural University; Wen Jiabao Has a Heart-to-Heart Chat: Chinese Leaders Speak of ‘May Fourth’”胡锦涛回信农大; 温家宝北大谈心: 中国领导人“五四”寄语青年, 南方都市报 2010-05-05

[no author attribution; translation by Adam Cathcart]

南都讯昨日是“五四”青年节,党和国家领导人纷纷以不同形式寄语青年胡锦涛总书记给中国农业大学师生回信,勉励青年和青年学生书写美好人生,温家宝总理来到北大,与大学生共度青年节,强调应该记住“五四”的科学民主精神。As Southern Metro Daily covered, yesterday was “May Fourth” Youth Day, and [accordingly] Party and state leaders sent messages of differing form to young people.  General Secretary Hu Jintao replied to professors and teachers at China Agricultural University teachers, encouraging young people and young students to “write a beautiful life” [书写美好人生].   Premier Wen Jiabao went to Beijing University to experience Youth Day with university students, emphasizing that May Fourth’s spirit of scientific democracy must be remembered.

胡锦涛勉励青年书写美好人生 Hu Jintao Encourages Young People to Write a Beautiful Human Life

去年五四青年节前夕,胡锦涛总书记来到中国农业大学,与师生们共迎五四青年节在同师生代表座谈时,总书记对广大青年和青年学生提出了殷切希望。近日,中国农业大学的师生给胡锦涛总书记写信,汇报了他们一年来按照总书记要求刻苦学习、勤奋工作、投身实践的情况。  On the eve of last year’s Youth Day, General Secretary Hu Jintao arrived at China Agricultural University to welcome Youth Day with professors and students.  During a discussion with student representatives at that time, the general secretary expressed his ardent hope for the broad masses of young people and young students.  In the past few days, professors and students at China Agricultural University wrote to General Secretary Hu Jintao, reporting on their year in accordance with the General Secretary’s requests [for them] to study hard, work diligently, and throw themselves into fulfillment of the situation.

胡锦涛在回信中说,解决好“三农”问题是全党工作的重中之重,实现农业现代化是我国基本实现现代化的一项重要任务。这为农业院校赋予了重大责任,也为广大农科学子提供了广阔舞台。希望中国农业大学始终秉持“解民生之多艰,育天下之英才”的校训,下大气力提高教学水平、加强科研攻关、培育优[優]秀人才,为发展现代农业作出更大贡献。希望中国农业大学的同学们牢固树立远大志向,努力掌握过硬本领,在热情服务“三农”的实践中建功立业,书写美好的人生。 In his letter of response [to China Agricultural University], Hu Jintao said:  “Successfully solving the “three rural problems”* is a top priority of the entire party’s work.  The task of realizing agricultural modernization is, for our country, a basic task of realizing [any] modernization.  This has become a major responsibility of agricultural institutions, and also provides a vast stage for the broader use of agricultural scientists.  [I] hope that the China Agricultural University can perpetually uphold training [of the motto] “Solving the many difficulties of the people’s livelihood, educating all talents under heaven.”   Make powerful efforts to improve the level of teaching level, strengthen scientific research to tackle key problems, and cultivate outstanding talents: [then you will] make greater contributions to the development of modern agriculture.  [I] hope that fellow students at China Agricultural University can securely establish forward-looking and ambitious goals to master more skills, and, in enthused service to the “three rural” line of contributions to agricultural practice write a beautiful human life.

* On the “three rural problems (or san nong wenti “三农”问题), this scholarly article from a 2006 issue of ASIAN by Nora Sausmikat provides some insight (see page 83 and footnote 38; the phrase was apparently coined by Wen Tianjun in a 2001 issue of Dushu and then picked up by Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao). 

Hu Jintao in Hainan, 2008, via Xinhua