Chinese ambassador Lu Shumin speaks at Western

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Chinese ambassador Lu Shumin

Jon Purdy

“In the face of differences we should build bridges, not walls.”

That was the resounding message delivered by Lu Shumin, the Chinese ambassador to Canada, when he spoke at Western yesterday.

Lu Shumin spoke to a room packed with students, professors and officials.

Shumin shared his views on Canada’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China. He emphasized the importance of maintaining strong ties between the two nations despite their differences.

“We have worked closely and effectively with Canada on a number of hotspot issues including the UN reform, international peacekeeping, prevention and treatment of the Avian flu, cross-border crimes and the environment protection forces,” Shumin said.

Highlighting China’s growth and prosperity using statistics, Shumin explained the benefits of maintaining a strategic partnership in trade and tourism.

“Every 365 days, there are [the size of] two Canadas moving up the ladder of living standards [in China]. Imagine what a market that represents.”

Shumin also highlighted the importance of educational ties between Canada and China.

When he came to Canada several decades ago, Shumin said he remembered being one of no more than a dozen exchange students from China. Today, he said, there are over 50,000 Chinese students studying in Canada.

He praised Western for its diversity, adding there are over 3,000 students and over 50 professors of Chinese origin at Western.

“We are working with Canada for the mutual recognition of degrees of higher learning and post-secondary education,” Shumin said. “What a huge door we have opened to students from both countries to further their learning in China and Canada.”

Herman Xu, an undergraduate student at Western and president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, a chapter of the Education Department of the Chinese Embassy, attended the lecture. He described Shumin as a Dang Jia Ren, or father figure, for him and his colleagues.

“He is the icon of the People’s Republic of China in Canada for all overseas Chinese,” Xu said.

Shumin closed on a hopeful note for the future.

“As Chinese ambassador, I’m ready to work closely with you for the future progress and also for the future of our bilateral relations. I am optimistic and confident of this future and I believe that you are too.”

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