Facing the Future: China and the World from Multiple Perspectives


Report on the results of “Facing the Future: China and the World from Multiple Perspectives” Roundtable held at the 11th Rhodes Forum on October 4, 2013

“Facing the Future: China and the World from Multiple Perspectives” China Roundtable was held at 15:00-19:00, October 4, on the 2013 Rhodes Forum. The head of Chinese delegation, Professor Zhuo Xinping moderated the Roundtable, eleven Chinese scholars gave speeches on four major topics, geopolitics and geoeconomics, Chinese tradition, Chinese religion, and family education. Vladimir Yakunin, Natalia Yakunina and some thirty participants of the Rhodes Forum attended the China Roundtable.

In the first session on geopolitics and geoeconomics, Professor Xing Guangcheng discussed Chinese new ideas toward neighboring countries, especially on China’s successful experience of peacefully solving disputes, promotion of regional economic cooperation, and new policies toward the major powers in the world. Professor Peng Yongjie examined the major difficulties and some failed attempts to form an East Asian union, and look ahead for the hopeful future of such a union. Professor Dong Zhiyong analyzed the unique pattern of Chinese economic development, the critical changes it underwent, and the challenge it faces now. In the free discussion, three speakers answered the questions concerning China’s relation with Singapore, Japan, North Korea, South Asian countries, and China’s economic role in Pacific countries and in the world.

In the second session on Chinese tradition, Professor Liao Shenbai talked about the Confucian portrayal of a good man (junzi), and the heritage of this conception in contemporary Chinese society. Professor Yu Xueming discussed an important traditional idea “to lay aside the distinctions in order to achieve harmony,” and explained how this idea contributed to the harmony of religions in Chinese history. Professor Zhang Zhihong made a comparative study of Western and Confucian conception of human right, and emphasized Confucian social and relational view of human being in contrast with Western individualist view of human being. In the free discussion, three speakers expressed their deep thought on the lately proposed idea “China Dream” and the place of Confucianism in this proposal.

In the third session on Chinese religion, Professor Wei Dedong analyzed the reason why China had a number of religions but never had serious religious war, and according to him this was largely due to the Confucianization of different religions in the Chinese cultural context. Professor Wang Yujie introduced the historical situation and contemporary development of Islam in China, and especially both its conformity and diversity. Professor Wei Shan, based on his observation of American Buddhist practice, discussed the new opportunities and challenges faced by American Buddhists. In the following lively discussion, the speakers as well as the moderator answered a number of questions participants were concerned with, such as new development of Buddhism in China, problems in Chinese Islamic religion (especially on the problem of immigrant Muslim and local Muslim, Islamic extremists in China, Islamic schools), and the Orthodox Church in China.

The last session was devoted to family education, an extension of this morning’s plenary session. Professor Li Shenglan, based on her keen observation of Chinese and American daily practice, compared the preschool partnership with family in these two countries. Doctor Liu Wei brought two great traditions, Confucianism and Aristotelianism together, and discussed their shared idea that family should play an important role in moral education.

Professor Zhuo Xinping summarized the main themes of all the speeches, emphasized that this Roundtable, though limited in time, had served as a good starting point for further dialogue, and expressed our good hope of conducting constructive cooperation in the future. The first China Roundtable in Rhodes Forum achieved its intended goal. It introduced China from various angles and dimensions, drew people’s attention to both China’s traditional wisdom and future development, and encouraged lively discussion on problems China has to face.

After the China Roundtable, Mr. Yakunin met the Chinese delegation, congratulated the success of the Roundtable, discussed the value of Chinese civilization in this globalized world, and explored further cooperation with China Soon Ching Ling Foundation and with Chinese scholars.