Back in the forefront: Prof. Chi-Chih Yao on Tsinghua's 110th birthday

Tsinghua University was born at a time of national danger and developed at the time of national rejuvenation, and has witnessed many generations of youths in the past 110 years.

During this Chinese top university’s 110th birthday celebration, CGTN Dialogue spoke to Prof. Chi-Chih Yao, the 2000 Turing Award Laureate, who is also known as the founder of Tsinghua’s “Yao Class” in computer science, which gathers the best-performing students from the college science & technology entrance exams.

Shifting role of Tsinghua

The funding for the founding of Tsinghua came from part of a refund of the indemnity that China made after the invasion of eight Western powers at the beginning of 20th century. Looking at the shift of Tsinghua’s role, Prof. Yao thinks it’s once again standing at the frontline of the modern world.

“At this juncture, interestingly, it's again having a major role in terms of what I would say is the last mile of catching up to the modern world in universities.”


Founding the “Yao Class”

Speaking of coming back to China from the US and opening this class, he said he believed missing out on up-to-the-moment education in computer science would have be a great pity for China’s most talented students.

“At the time when I returned to China in 2004, the curriculum and the general teaching in higher education, computer science, was somewhat behind the times. I think that it would be a shame if our brilliant young talents couldn't get the most up-to-date education in computer science, at least.”


Growing returnees’ group

Facing the complaint inside China that graduates of top universities would eventually end up relocating to the West, Yao reminds us of the current trend of more high-quality returnees from overseas.

“You can see that the quality of the returnees from abroad has vastly elevated through the years. And there's huge difference that I can personally testify through the last 15 years that have been in Tsinghua.”


Sino-US rivalry

“You will not be able to stop the other side from progressing and entering into a much better relationship.” Yao says that the deep intertwining between China and the US suggests that the Sino-US rivalry is only going to last a short time.


Catching up in new technology

As the competition in the semiconductor field escalates between the two global powers, China has to face the fact that it missed the micro-electronics revolution 70 to 80 years ago. And that makes it hard for the rising Eastern power to catch up in semiconductors.

But the Tsinghua professor believes China is going to play a much larger part in new technologies such as quantum, artificial intelligence and bio-engineering.

“China is well on its way to taking a very important position in the quantum technology.”


Search Trends