The President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping became the latest high-profile public figure to be conferred with an honorary doctorate by the University of Johannesburg (UJ). UJ’s Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment conferred the honorary doctoral degree to President Jinping in acknowledgement of his visionary technology achievements that pave the way towards an innovative, knowledge-based economy. The conferral took place on Thursday, 11 April 2019, in the Sanlam Auditorium at the University’s Kingsway Campus in Auckland, and was attended by a high powered delegation from China that included diplomats and more than 40 journalists from one of the world’s leading economies.
Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Ambassador Lin Songtian accepted the honorary doctoral degree – Doctor Engineriae Honoris Causa on behalf of President Xi Jinping, and thanked UJ for the honorary degree. “The University of Johannesburg is a well-known Pan-African university in Africa. With its progressive ideology and deep roots in Africa. UJ is committed to Africa’s innovation and development and has cultivated a large number of professional talents in such fields as engineering, business, law and humanities,” said Ambassador Singtian.
“UJ attaches great importance to studies on China and China-Africa relations and it has now become an important base for academic and people-to-people exchanges between China and South Africa.” He called on “the world to view China’s rise in an objective and unbiased manner.”
Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UJ said: “In the age of UJ pioneering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we are proud to honour Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). As a direct result of his influence and passion, China has become an international leader in technology.”
Prof Marwala said UJ’s mission is to support and inspire its community and to transform and serve humanity through innovation and the collaborative pursuit of knowledge. The values that underpin this vision and mission are imagination, conversation, regeneration and an ethical foundation.
President Jinping’s unwavering focus on cultivating a highly educated, STEM-based Chinese workforce not only attracts elite global talent but with its innovation-driven growth model, China has become a global Centre for technological hardware innovation for many start-up companies to invent transformative products. Similarly, President Jinping has espoused the values and policies of theoretical and material innovation, achieving a moderately prosperous society in all respects; national rejuvenation; and a better world and international community with a shared future for humankind.
“Therefore, the conferral is in line with UJ’s vision of positioning ourselves as a Pan-African university of choice, firmly anchored in Africa, and dynamically shaping the world, as well as intrinsically committed to help to propel Africa into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, that we are proud to award President Xi Jinping the degree Doctor Engineriae Honoris Causa.”
President Jinping is the third recipient of an honorary doctorate conferred by the University during this year’s autumn graduation season, which started on Thursday, 14 March. The first two recipients were anti-apartheid campaigner and civil rights leader in the US, Ambassador Andrew Jackson Young Jr, and the 2016 Noble prize in Chemistry recipient, Professor Bernard Lucas ‘Ben’ Feringa. Other recipients who will be conferred with Honorary Doctorates include The South African social justice campaigner and global civil society activist, Mr Kumi Naidoo; African-American mathematician, Katherine Johnson and the Executive Director of The World Academy of Sciences, Professor Romain Murenzi.
President Jinping was born in June 1953. A male ethnic Han from Fuping, Shaanxi Province, and he entered the workforce in January 1969 and joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) in January 1974. Xi Jinping’s prominence grew during the period 2002-2003, when he became Secretary, CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee; and acting Governor, Zhejiang Province; and First Secretary, Party Committee, Zhejiang Provincial Military Region, among other roles.