Int’l forum focuses on Chinese and world civilizations amid profound changes

By DUAN DANJIE, BAN XIAOYUE, and WEI SIYU / 09-01-2022 / Chinese Social Sciences Today

The Opening Ceremony of The International Academic Forum in China 2022 Photo: CSST

On Aug. 26-27, The International Academic Forum in China 2022, sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and undertaken by Social Sciences in China Press (SSCP) under CASS, was convened in Beijing. With a theme of “Civilizations Amid Profound Changes: China and the World,” the forum was held online and offline and had over 100 participating scholars from China and abroad. They revealed Chinese civilization’s unique contributions and contemporary relevance from multiple disciplines, dimensions, and levels, and reflected on human civilization’s development trends, while offering suggestions on deepening exchanges and mutual learning between Chinese and other civilizations around the world. 

The two-day forum was divided into five concurrent panels, namely the Panel of Marxist Theory and Philosophy, the Panel of Literature and History, the Panel of Economics and Sociology, the Panel of Law and Journalism and Communication, and the Panel of Political Science/Public Administration and International Relations, with a tight schedule, a warm atmosphere, and fruitful dialogues. 
Civilizational exchanges matter
Diversity is a global feature, and also why human civilization is charming. In the face of profound changes unseen in a century, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping emphasized, at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2021, the need to “advocate peace, development, equity, justice, democracy, and freedom, which are common values of humanity, and encourage exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations to promote the progress of human civilization.” This important statement has provided fresh perspectives for observing the changing international pattern and drawn new coordinates for advancing human progress. 
In his keynote speech at the forum’s Opening Ceremony, Huang Kunming, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, called for efforts to promote exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations, to seize development opportunities, and meet common challenges. He emphasized efforts to treat each other with respect and equality, and strengthen mutual learning, exchanges, and interactions.
Huang also highlighted the need to champion the vision of a community with a shared future for humanity and promote the shared human values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom.
Chairing the forum’s Opening Ceremony, Shi Taifeng, CASS president and secretary of the Leading Party Members’ Group at CASS, pointed out that the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is irreversible, and Chinese civilization—with a history of more than 5,000 years—is unleashing new vitality. Promoting human advancement with intellectual strength and culture and facilitating the world’s peaceful development with civilizational wisdom are the important duties of philosophers and social scientists in the new era.
Promoting mutual learning 
Civilizations are enriched by exchanges and through mutual learning. Advocating for mutual learning and common development is not only Chinese civilization’s attitude towards and vision of civilizations from other parts of the world, but also a method of advancing civilizational progress. It is the inexhaustible force driving civilizations to thrive.
Liu Qingzhu, a CASS Member and a research fellow from the Institute of Archaeology at CASS, said that China has always upheld the concept of you rong nai da (greatness lies in its capacity) in its long-term exchanges with other civilizations. In today’s world, the renowned Silk Road is still a road of friendship and cooperation between China and the world for equal and mutually beneficial exchanges and development.
Since the 20th century, the development of diversified civilizations has not only been a realistic historical pattern but is also a consensus in human development. 
“Faced with increasing global problems at present, the existing international order has been inadequate to promote exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations and cultures to the greatest extent. The new era of globalization calls for a new philosophy of global governance,” said Zhang Zhengwen, president of the University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 
Li Yujie, former vice president of Chongqing Normal University, noted that the basic factors of Chinese civilization, such as the consistency of its cultural, ethnic and national identities, as well as the cultural openness, ethnic and racial compatibility, and the homogeneity of the political state and culture and nationality inherited in these characteristics, allow Chinese civilization to achieve the mutual complementation among modernization, globalization, and localization. 
Yang Dian, deputy director of the Institute of Sociology at CASS, said that through mutual learning between China and the world, the entire human society has been improved and optimized, along with an essential and objective understanding of development. 
“As mentioned by many scholars, today we are in an era full of uncertainty, but this also provides a hard-won opportunity for human society to accelerate knowledge innovation. Only through continuous collision, tolerance, and innovation of various knowledge forms of Chinese and other civilizations can we truly create an innovative human knowledge system,” Yang said.
New model of human advancement
The CPC has led the Chinese people to pioneer a new and uniquely Chinese path to modernization and create a new model for human advancement. 
“China’s development has created not only a new and uniquely Chinese path to modernization, but also a new model for human advancement. The development of a ‘new model’ from the ‘new path’ is a major transition from ‘development’ to ‘civilization,’ the highest achievement of China’s development and its greatest contribution to world civilization,” said Feng Ziyi, a professor of philosophy from Peking University. His words were echoed by many other scholars at the forum.
The new model of human advancement demonstrated by the uniquely Chinese path to modernization heralds a brighter prospect for human civilization. Zhang Zhiqiang, director of the Institute of Philosophy at CASS, said this prospect is a new human advancement model with a grand landscape shown by the new model of Chinese civilization, a community with a shared future for humanity composed of different modern forms created in the soil of different civilizations, and a new civilization with diversity and harmony. As a new model for human civilization, uniquely Chinese modernization is the modernization of ancient civilizations, not one that eradicates ancient civilizations. In his view, this is the unique value of uniquely Chinese modernization.
Yang Geng, a professor from the School of Philosophy at Beijing Normal University, said that the most important feature and significance of contemporary Chinese practice is that it condenses the three major social changes of modernization, marketization, and socialist reform at the same time and in the same space. Its goal is to establish and improve the socialist market economic system in the process of reform, and realize social modernization in the process of economic marketization, so as to realize the transformation of civilization. The “trifold changes” and “trinity” will surely constitute a new model for human advancement. This is what is “new” of the new form of civilization that has emerged from the uniquely Chinese-style modernization drive.
Contributing Chinese academic wisdom
As profound changes unseen in a century are rapidly evolving in the contemporary world, its political and economic structure is undergoing profound adjustments, and the global governance system is witnessing profound transformations. The development of human civilization faces both major opportunities and challenges. In this context, the concept of “a community with a shared future for humanity” has far-reaching implications for world peace and development.
Zhang Shuhua, director of the Institute of Political Science at CASS, said that the great vision of “a community with a shared future for humanity” has profoundly condensed the institutional logic and development philosophy from “all-around development” to “joint governance.” Coexistence of civilizations, peaceful coexistence, equality-based consultation, cooperation and joint construction, fair sharing, and mutual benefit are the core principles of this great vision. Only by adhering to the global governance concept of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits, while safeguarding multilateralism, can we finally actualize the good vision of “joint governance” for people all over the world.
Su Changhe, dean of the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University, believes that the mechanisms and cultures of gongsheng (symbiosis) between countries are crucial for international relations to break away from traditional confrontational politics. This requires countries around the world to jointly overcome the weaknesses of domestic confrontational institutional systems and the international politics of camp confrontations, seek a sound political consultation mechanism, and promote the progressive transformation of international politics, to transition to a better form of human political practice.
At the forum’s Closing Ceremony, Fang Jun, deputy secretary-general of CASS and editor-in-chief of SSCP, said that the forum has achieved fruitful results, fully showcasing the beauty of intellectual creation, the beauty of mutual learning among civilizations, and the beauty of academic exchanges. Focusing on this forum’s theme, participating experts put forward many original ideas, theories, and viewpoints, which greatly opened minds and advanced scholarship. This is the forum’s aim and major feature. Experts and scholars from all over the world, with different skin colors and languages, focused on the same theme and conducted dialogues and exchanges on an equal footing online and offline. This in itself has been a grand event for exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations.