The history of Tsinghua University often conveys the mixed feelings of the Chinese people. Built in 1911, it was funded on part of the Boxer Rebellion indemnity compensation as a result of China's defeat by the Eight-Nation Alliance: Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. A century of ups and downs later, the university celebrated its centennial with glory and glamour on April 24. As one of foremost higher learning institutions in China, Tsinghua enjoys high esteem and is the pride of the nation.
As China congratulated the university, its people collectively renewed their memory of the past century. The fate of the university has been closely linked with the destiny of the Chinese nation and the university itself is an epitome of an era.
Tsinghua began life as a small preparatory school of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) for students to study in the United States. During the 1930s, it developed into one of the top institutions of higher learning in the country. Before and during the Resistance War Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45), Tsinghua students were at the forefront in rallying people to defend their motherland. Since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, especially against the backdrop of China's renaissance since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policy in 1978, Tsinghua has thrived and developed step by step from a polytechnic engineering institute into a comprehensive university. The university has prospered, boasting high educational standards, world-class facilities and distinguished graduates contributing a lot to the country's economic takeoff.
What's worth mentioning is that Tsinghua is not only a cradle of great engineers but also a cradle of state leaders. Its alumni include President Hu Jintao, Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Vice President Xi Jinping, former Premier Zhu Rongji, Nobel Prize-winning Chinese American physicist and mathematician Chen-ning Yang, and many other leading scientists and engineers as well as government officials.
With the motto Self-Discipline and Social Commitment and a spirit of actions speak louder than words, Tsinghua has committed itself to pursuing academic excellence, the well-being of Chinese society and global development. Its achievements represent this country's development of higher learning institutions.
China has built the world's largest-scale education system, trained hundreds of millions of high-level professionals. But China's higher-learning education as a whole still lags behind developed nations. The nation is now vowing to build Tsinghua, and a number of its peers, into world-class universities, which will be able to provide intellectual support to the national strategy of enhancing indigenous innovative capability. As it aspires to become one of the highest-ranked universities in the world, Tsinghua University is expected to do more to bestow her historical responsibility.