Citations and Speeches


169th Congregation (2004)

QIAN Zhengying
Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science

The Public Orator, Dr Elaine Yee-lin Ho, wrote and delivered the following citation:

In the twentieth century, as China reconstructs itself to face the challenges of the new and modern world, many men and women contributed their efforts to the development of their mother nation. Among the most distinguished women to have devoted a lifetime to the project of national reconstruction is Qian Zhengying. Over the past sixty years, Madam Qian's expertise as a civil engineer has been called upon many times to direct and lead major projects in water conservancy and hydro-electric power in China.

A native of Zhejiang province, Qian Zhengying was trained as a civil engineer at Datong University in Shanghai. As an undergraduate, she took an active part in student movements; joining the Communist Party of China in 1941, she worked for a while underground and later became Secretary of a secret Branch Committee of the Party. From 1942 to 1945, she was a schoolteacher in the Huaibei Liberated Area from Japanese occupation, and then became Chief of Water Conservancy Section of Construction Division of Huaibei District Government. During the next three years, until 1948, she worked as Head of Project Section of Water Conservancy Bureau in Jiangsu-Anhui Liberated Area, and Head of Front-line Engineering Division of East China Military Command during the war against the Kuomintang. In 1948, her knowledge and experience and devotion to the national cause won greater recognition when she was made Director of Yellow River Engineering Bureau of Shandong Province.

Throughout the long history of China, the country's great rivers have enabled life and progress, but they have also jeopardized them. Floods and other disasters have brought untold misery to the Chinese people. Qian Zhengying was determined that the power and resource of China's rivers should be harnessed to serve the nation's long-term benefit, and that it would be her life-work to liberate China from the rivers' afflictions. As one of the technological leaders of the new China, she was well-placed to realize this mission. From 1950-52, she was Vice-Director of both the Water Conservancy Department of East China Political and Military Commission and the Project Department of Huaihe River Commission, and President of East China Technical University of Water Resources, and between 1953 and 1974, she was first appointed Vice-Minister of Water Resources, and later Vice-Minister of Water Resources and Electric Power.

The drafting of China's National Water Conservancy Law and Water and Soil Conservancy Law was completed under Madam Qian's leadership. She was also instrumental in the design and construction of a number of major flood control projects along the Yellow River. These projects have greatly alleviated the flood hazards along river's lower reaches. In the nineteen eighties, as Minister of Water Resources and Electric Power and Minister of Water Resources, Qian Zhengying headed a group of 400 professionals and experts who spent three years on a feasibility study of the construction of the Three Gorges Project. Her pioneering work laid the foundations for this massive, world-renowned undertaking. In 1999, she was appointed by the State Council to lead a study group for monitoring the construction quality of the project.

In her own seminal essays on "Problems of Decision Making in Water Conservancy of China"*, Qian Zhengying identified the five qualities that a decision-maker should have: dedication to the people's interest; a broad-based foundation of knowledge; the ability to unite talent from different fields; a determined professional spirit; and to be adept in focusing the common intelligence of the populace. In her own work and leadership in water conservancy projects over half a century, Madam Qian has amply demonstrated all these qualities. The respect in which she is held in China is witnessed in her election as an Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering in 1997.

Since her election, she has been the principal investigator of a number of national key study projects, including "A Study of the Flooding in 1998", "A Study of Sustainable Strategic Development of Water Resources in China in the 21st Century", and "A Study of Sustainable Strategic Development of the Water Resources in the North West and Eco-Environmental Construction". Her publications and the model of her life-work will continue to inspire succeeding generations of engineers to devote their professional expertise, as she did, to the Chinese people. Mr Pro-Chancellor, it is my honour and privilege to present Qian Zhengying for the award of the Degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

* 中國水利的決策問題(Water Conservancy in China), ed. Qian Zhengying, Chapter 18.