Jack Ma Speaks at Commencement 2020

May 29 2020

Watch Jack Ma's entire speech at NYU Shanghai's 2020 Commencement on Youtube or Bilibili.


Chancellor Yu, Vice Chancellor Lehman, NYU Shanghai faculty members, students, parents, ladies and gentlemen, good evening! 

Today marks a very important day in your lives. It is a pleasure and honor, during this extraordinary time and through this unique way, to join this important moment. Thank you, Mr. Chancellor, teachers and students. You all make this Medal of Honor feel even more special, and I cherish it deeply.

Today is your graduation day. Graduates this year face major challenges. Upon graduation you have to deal with a global pandemic, and whether you are looking for work or want to continue studying, you will confront unprecedented challenges that could not have been imagined. But, this is life.

At this moment in time to graduate, to look for a job, to enter society, you all may feel very unlucky. But the truth is, life is full of unexpected things. Once you have learned how to adapt, you will understand life. Once you learn how to take opportunities, you will distinguish yourself from others. This year, the many graduates around the world all face the same challenges. At this moment, your attitude and actions will decide your future.

However, the class of 2020 has taken one more course and earned one credit more than any other class. And while this course has no exams, it is more important than any other course at school. Because of this pandemic, because of this disaster, you are studying and reflecting on today’s great global changes. You are contemplating what responsibilities you will personally take, how to change yourself to adapt to the future. It is very hard for us to change yesterday, or to change today, but small accomplishments today can change tomorrow and change our future. This course is just beginning. And just like you, I am also only beginning to learn.

Today, we already see the world faced with an unprecedented, once-in-a-century crisis. But humans possess unprecedented resources and wealth. We also have unprecedented technological capability. Of course, we also face unprecedented difficulties and challenges.

Today, our knowledge, information technology, and risk control capabilities are the strongest in history. However, it is extremely unfortunate that we at times are not using these resources, capabilities and knowledge to enhance cooperation and collaboration. Instead, on occasion, divisions are being created and differences have grown larger.

Throughout the course of human development, disaster has never been lacking. However, it is rare to have a situation like today. Following disaster we face such great global unease. This is truly worrisome. But worries are never useful. We should act instead of worry. Which direction will the world and our future follow? This is up to you. It will depend on the choices of young people. It will depend on young people’s actions.

I heard that after Wuhan was locked down, one of your students back home in the Czech Republic, despite the lockdown, mailed 100 face masks to classmates in Wuhan. Later, as the pandemic spread globally, students in Wuhan consulted with Chinese doctors and collected, translated and shared information with their Czech classmate to help back. The graduates of NYU Shanghai, I believe we all can see that you have already made your choice through your actions.

To solve today’s problems and challenges is the greatest opportunity for your generation. This is also the real opportunity for you to create value for the world. I believe in order for 21st century graduates to fully grasp these opportunities and embrace the future, you need to have three views: a global view, a view of the future and a comprehensive view. You also need to have three Qs: IQ, EQ and LQ (the Q of Love).

To have a global view, you do not need to know a foreign language, but you must respect and understand different cultures. No people or nation are the same. They are and will continue to be different. Today’s global problems are a result of our focus on too many differences. Identifying differences among us is not something to be praised. What is truly praiseworthy is to see through our differences and put faith in our common areas, to have the ability to put aside our differences and walk forward together.

48 years ago, China and the United States found common ground in spite of their differences. What started as differences became cooperation, which led to the development and prosperity we see around the world today. China and the United States, New York and Shanghai, over the past few centuries there have been many differences. But because of these differences, we are able to appreciate and discover charm in each other's differences. The differences between China and the United States, over the next few centuries, will not be able to change, nor should they. What we need is not to change these differences, rather what we need is to find our common ground and to respect our differences.

After President Nixon’s visit to China, schools in Hangzhou started to offer English classes. The city of Hangzhou became more open, many American tourists visited Hangzhou. I became a tour guide for American tourists and learned English. I learned many different things. I learned about the great charms of the world. It helped me to see the world and think through problems in a different way.

Today, each of us sitting here and everyone present today has benefited immensely from China-US cooperation and globalization. Without China-US cooperation, NYU Shanghai would not be possible. Without China-US cooperation, I am also convinced that today’s Jack Ma, today’s Alibaba would not exist. Looking ahead, for China, for the United States, and for the world, finding a common path forward, a common path for cooperation is a mission that only young people can complete, this is your responsibility. For all of you graduating from this university, under cooperation of these two great cities, at this moment in time, I believe your fate is destined to include this special mission.

To have a comprehensive view is to see issues from another’s perspective. During the IT era the main focus is oneself. To make yourself stronger, to compete with muscles. The DT era’s main focus is to help others. Only when others are better I can improve. Competition is based on wisdom and intelligence. In last century, what is important is what I think. In this century, the 21st century, what others think becomes also very important. Because in this world, no one can live well alone, and no country can solve problems alone. Only through a comprehensive view, only through a focus on helping others, can we really make ourselves better and change the world for the better.

We must have a view of the future. We should thank yesterday, change today and believe in tomorrow. There is no expert of the future because none has been to the future. The best way to predict future is to create it. We should always do things with the future in mind. We need to solve problems of the future, not problems of the past. More importantly, we should not use methods of the past to solve problems of the future.

Young people that look to the future should also have IQ, EQ and LQ. People with high IQ do not fail easily. People with high EQ can find more opportunities. But only people with high LQ can win the respect of others. In the future, machines may replace people in a lot of jobs, but machines only have chips. They don’t have a heart. Love is the only thing that cannot be replaced by machine.

The way I see it, young people from around the world do not have different nationalities, do not have different races and beliefs. The only difference is between those that do and do not have dreams, those that do and do not have responsibility. The size of your hearts will determine the size of our world. What kind of person you are will determine how our future world will be. You believe in the future, we put our trust in believing in you, believing in young people.

Today is a new beginning. The road ahead is full of challenges, but also full of hope. I believe that as long as we work hard together, study together, we can definitely help the world step into a better future.

And I believe you all will make it! Once again congratulations and best wishes to everyone. Thank you.