I consider it a great privilege to be standing here to express my gratitude and that of my two fellow honorary graduands, for the great honor the University of Hong Kong has just bestowed on us. However, there is a small point of difference between me and my two honorary companions. Dr. Bard, as you all know, is a graduate of this University, and has long been associated with it in running the University health service. He is also an archaeologist and a musician. He has taken part in many excavations around Hong Kong and even in Macao. He also conducted a number of concerts in this great city in South China. Dr. S.Y. Chung is also a graduate of this University. With his solid training here, he has built up a number of successful industrial enterprises and become a philanthropist, working for the welfare of the University and the city of Hong Kong. These two companions of mine have direct connection with the University and the city. They have done so much for both, and naturally deserve the great honour that has been bestowed on them. But who am I to deserve this similar honour? The Public Orator, Professor Harris, has been far too kind in his citation about my humble self and my work. As a matter of fact, I have neither a direct connection with this University nor have I been a resident here for more than a few months.
Well, I have searched my mind for a reason. It is true that I have acquired many close friends in England and America ever since I left china for London in 1933. but few of them know about my former life in china more than forty-two years ago. In my youth I was a great admirer of the founder of the Republic of China, Dr. Sun Yat Sen, who was also a graduate of this University and who must have, apart from his medical training, studied Western civilization and learned new ideas for the reform of China into a democratic country. Based on his studies, he formed his famous three principles of the people: the first, China's racial independence; the second, Chinese peoples' civil rights; and the third, Chinese peoples' welfare. During my high school years I saw much misery among our people: many dies of starvation on the roads, some were killed without trial, and some robbed and beaten without even a chance to resist. During my college days I observed the cruelty and injustice done to our people by ruthless warlords. So after my graduation from this university, I went to Canton and from there to Nanchang to join the Northern Expeditionary forces, and fought against the warlords for a year. With the little service I did then, I was made the head civil servant of four districts. I wanted to do something for the people, but unfortunately nothing could be done on the conditions of turmoil in China in those days. Time passed, and Dr. Sun's three principles of the people showed no signs of materializing. Instead, many new warlords came into being and were given the chance to rule China. I myself had a great quarrel with one of the powerful new warlords, who happened to be my superior at the time. Perhaps none of you here today can imagine the power of the warlord in those days. He could do anything he wanted to you. So I made my way to England.
During my forty-two years' absence from China, so many changes have taken place in England and America which I myself have witnessed. I was bombed out three times in London during the Second World War. I escaped my first direct hit while I was giving a talk on Chinese art in Oxford. Well, I thought China must have been going through even greater changes during the past forty-two years. I was anxious to see them for myself, and managed to do so for sixty days last spring. To my great surprise I found that the bulk of the Chinese mass who used to be illiterate, can now read and write as well as express themselves freely. I mean freely because in those warlord days many of them, being ignorant, did not dare to say that they were hungry of that they were wronged, or to make any other complaint. So I feel that Dr. Sun's principles of the people have indeed materialized. Now everyone can have something to eat, enough clothes to wear, and plenty of work to do; there is no unemployment. Indeed China has completely independent, and is no longer a backward country as it used to be known throughout the whole world. In fact, China is not one of the countries possessing nuclear power. As Dr. Sun received his education and new ideas fro the reform of China from this University, I feel that my personal devotion to his principles gives me a kind of invisible connection with the University of Hong Kong.
That Dr. Sun received his new ideas from this University means that this University has long played an important part in introducing good points of Western civilization to China and at the same time it has helped to spread Chinese thought to the West. I think the University of Hong Kong has been like a well-built bridge, for Western and Chinese civilizations to pass over from one to the other. In the past decade I have been advocating the formation of a culture for the whole world. It would be neither the exclusive culture of the Western world nor that of the Eastern world. The recent best-selling book by Lord Kenneth Clark, entitled 'Civilization', has little mention about the Chinese, Japanese of even the Indian civilizations. Since the Second World War, many countries have been brought closer together. I believe that greater intimacy and mutual exchange of ideas and views among all countries and all people will cause to evolve a new type of culture, a hybrid culture, drawn from different civilizations. I therefore admire the University of Hong Kong for its early lead in bringing this to pass.
In recent years higher education throughout the whole world has been doing through a most difficult time. During the 1960s university students went on strike in many countries. I myself experienced the great upheaval in Columbia University where I was barred from classes for days. This almost universal student unrest was avoided by the University of Hong Kong, to the surprise of many. I think it indicates that this University has a stable working constitution under great Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors, and has many able professors. Academic studies in many western universities deteriorated during the strike years and it has taken a great deal of effort to restore the situation, and present-day inflation has not helped much. Although Hong Kong has been somewhat affected by world inflation, the University of Hong Kong maintains her integrity and promotes her academic studies without the slightest wavering. For the past few years I have seen much development and improvement here, particularly in Chinese studies. I think this University has indeed kept pace with the march of time. I would like to extend my personal thanks to the University, and my congratulations on his achievements to the present Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Rayson Huang.