UK Cambridge University. (Photo: UK Study Center)
LONDON, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- China's progress over the last 40 years since the country's late leader Deng Xiaoping initiated the reform and opening up policy is "phenomenal" and "extraordinary," according to leaders of top British universities.
OPENNESS AND ENGAGEMENT
"I think it's obvious to any observer that in 40 years China has made extraordinary strides in science and technology in lifting 700 million people out of poverty. It's an incredible achievement and almost unparalleled in human history," Stephen Toope, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, has told Xinhua in a previous exclusive interview.
The reform and opening up policy has enabled China to embrace the rest of the world with open arms, Toope said.
"I think that the openness to the world has been very much a part of that achievement," he said.
China's long march to openness and engagement was also welcomed by Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford.
She told Xinhua: "I'm so delighted that China is now so engaged internationally. I very much hope that it will continue... and I think it has enriched the world to learn more about China."
Professor Richardson, who once studied international relations and international law in Harvard University, said that communication and global understanding is always the best antidote to conflict.
"That is why I think it is over the longer term such a positive force to have so many students traveling overseas, both British students going to China and as we know there are far more Chinese students overseas now to build friendships that will last throughout their lifestyle and also to build business links between the two communities."
UNIVERSITIES FORGE LINKS BETWEEN CHINA AND WORLD
Alice Gast, president of Imperial College London, told Xinhua she believed that China's progress in the last 40 years has been a "huge thing."
"China opening up was the momentous point in history," Gast said.
China's achievements in the past 40 years domestically with its robust economic growth and internationally with its engagement with foreign nations set a foundation and a direction of travel which will benefit China and the world, said Gast.
"I think China will continue to thrive, especially if we keep this openness and collaboration because I do think that such as the entrepreneurial efforts and the opportunities to bring people together to pursue new technologies to solve grand challenge problems... I think that that type of collaboration is so important in the future."
Looking back at the history of Imperial College London and its engagement with China, Gast has seen remarkable changes and improvement over the last 40 years.
"It's grown from being one where it would have been driven by alumni of the individual university as an expatriate Chinese in the West connecting us back into China to now being Chinese universities being attracted to all kinds of collaborators."
"It has become very easy to visit China and to collaborate with colleagues who speak English well," she said. "And it's been a huge transformation in 40 years."
PHENOMENAL POVERTY REDUCTION AND AMAZING LIFE IMPROVEMENTS
Dame Minouche Shafik, director of the London School of Economics (LSE), said "the Chinese economy has done remarkably well in recent decades."
"The reduction in poverty has been phenomenal," she emphasized.
Michael Arthur, president and provost of University College London (UCL), has had a long engagement with China and his personal experience encompasses much of the reform and opening up period.
Arthur told Xinhua: "Well I've personally witnessed it, because I've been going to China for many years, and obviously the improvements and the lifestyle and the infrastructure that is now available in China is just absolutely amazing."
UCL has developed close links with leading Chinese universities, such as Peking University and Tsinghua University.
The strengthening of the Chinese university sector has been noted by Arthur, and UCL has played a part in cooperating with Chinese institutions like Tsinghua and Peking University as they develop their strategies for the 21st century.
"I think those best Chinese universities are now right up there among the best in the world," said Arthur.
"They're doing incredibly well, and they are doing it in the traditional way by recruiting the best people from around the world to come and work in their universities, including many Chinese who have worked abroad and now go back to China," he said.
"I've seen China's higher education system grow, expand and develop, and it has reached international levels of excellence that are completely different to 40 years ago," he acclaimed.
"And I think overall as well that the other thing that's very noticeable when you go to China is that prosperity among Chinese citizens is obviously improving and actually vary widely across society - that's impressive."