Princess Mathilde and Prince Phillipe are paying a visit to China. It is their third visit allready. It is suppose to be a 'economical trip'.
Pics to be found here;http://www.royals.web-log.nl/
A speech given by Phillipe at the Tsinghua University - Beijing;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The main reason why I wanted to spend some time with you today, is because I believe very strongly that we can learn from each other. Tsinghua University is in the top league of academic excellence. I am delighted to speak at this prestigious institution and to share with you some of my thoughts. And I am especially pleased to address an audience of Chinese students. You as future engineers and scientists are key players in tomorrow’s world.
I would like to speak to you about innovation, and in particular about the relation between innovation and the human being. My main message to you, is that we must put man at the centre of innovation. Innovation with a human face is needed to tackle the formidable challenges of our world and of the future. These challenges are global in nature, and the more global they become, the more we need to scale them to our "human" size.
In trying to find answers and solutions, we in the West can learn a lot from the Chinese. Your ancient wisdom and your way of looking at nature and at man, can help us to infuse science and technology with a human approach. You see nature as a gift, to be cherished, to be grateful for, as something to feel responsible for. In nature resides the spirit of creation, a mysterious and almost sacred concept.
China has understood these fundamentals centuries ago. The Chinese traditions can help us to find sustainable answers to today’s challenges. That is why Belgian universities welcome, and actively pursue, closer ties with your own universities. Leuven and Ghent already work very closely with Tsinghua, and I hope our visit today will strengthen those bonds.
Inside universities themselves, more cooperation is taking place between disciplines. In Belgium, like here, cross-fertilization between disciplines helps us to tackle global problems. Our universities are opening up the curriculum of engineering faculties to include the humanities. In this way, engineers are stimulated to develop a critical view on their chosen field of specialization. This also gives them a more global outlook and helps them to refine their sense of responsibility.
Closer ties between the exact sciences and the humanities also foster innovation. The final objective of research should be : to spawn innovations useful to mankind. This may sound obvious, but if we focus on innovation too exclusively, we could arrive at an absurd situation where we, humans, are forced to adapt to our own innovations, instead of the other way round. Scientists doing innovative research must therefore be aware of the human implications of this research and of the effects of their discoveries on society as a whole.
Innovation is not only a question of money or available means. It rests fundamentally on a dialogue between disciplines. That is true within the universities themselves; it is also the case in the relationship between university and business. This cooperation can take many forms. In Belgium we see a flourishing of spin-offs. The managers of these companies are mostly engineers with a brilliant idea who have realized that they need to look outside their own specialization to succeed.
Successful business ventures not only rest on innovative research, high quality of products or a high profit margin. Increasingly, successful business leaders are focusing on their corporate responsibility, on the role and responsibility of companies as key actors in society, and on the impact of their decisions for the general welfare of a population.
Let me give you another example of the human implication of innovation. In Belgium we have one of the world's highest concentrations of innovation in pharmaceutical research. This achievement is stimulated by putting the human needs at the centre and by a focus on care and on quality of life.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my firm belief that innovation with a human face is a crucial combination for tackling the global challenges of tomorrow's world.
I am confident about the future where the Chinese, a dynamic people with a positive outlook, will play a very important role. We all have a clear understanding of the dangers that threaten us, in particular the challenges of our natural environment. To tackle these challenges, we need science and technology, we need to innovate, and we need to do this together. But our research and our production processes need to focus much more on human requirements. Our way of living, also, should reflect the fact that man is at the centre. Man is the measure of all things, as the ancient Greeks said. Such a view also helps us in innovating, as I have shown with my example about pharmaceutical research.
We need, therefore, to change the way we look at ourselves and at nature. Westerners can learn from the Chinese, in becoming more sensitive to the mystery of nature and to the essential bond between nature and man. We should nourish our sense of humanity at the deep source of nature. In China you look at nature not as a mere accumulation of quantifiable data. You have kept its mystery intact by taking into account the spirit of creation that lies at its very core. These are very precious concepts in a world which often focuses too exclusively on material well-being. There is indeed a danger that we have alienated ourselves from our deep roots which lie in the union between man and nature. With our mind, we can dominate matter. But if we go too far along the road of indiscriminate production and consumption, we risk losing touch with our natural environment. That is one of the key messages that global warming is sending us.
As we advance in scientific research and technological ingenuity, let us also focus on restoring the balance. Let us try to attain a level of harmony in our own person, and by doing so, to become more open towards others, to respect their difference and to show recognition for their identity. These attitudes are building blocks towards the realization of a harmonious society which is, in my view, one of our core missions in life.
These values, Ladies and Gentlemen, motivate me personally to welcome ever closer exchanges between people. This is what I wanted to share with you today. Wee are eager to work closely with you, the Chinese people, with you here at Tsinghua University who are students today but who tomorrow will be leaders and will have to exercise the responsibility you are discovering here at the university. Let's learn from each other, let us respect our differences but work together towards a common goal which is : shaping a better future for mankind. I count on you all, and I wish you every success in life, and plenty of happiness. Thank you.