Global Times: Chinese culture pursues ‘not king, but jade’

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Global Times: Chinese culture pursues ‘not king, but jade’ USA – English APAC – English

BEIJING, Dec. 4, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Embracing more than 300 guests from around the world, the first Liangzhu Forum had its grand finale in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, on Sunday. 

Beside the main forum on Sunday, my journalistic experience of the event has been sweetened by two sub-events. The first one was crowded with 43 young sinologists from around the globe, while the second one embraced art creators from 83 countries to depict the “China” in their eyes. Sitting side by side with participants from countries such as Poland and Uganda, I was impressed to see overseas sinologists discuss Chinese subjects that were even too profound for locals to understand as well as view global artists’ deft paintings on traditional Chinese rice paper, known as xuanzhi. On Friday, the “Dialogue of Young Sinologists in the New Era” agenda was launched. Several topics covering a wide range of areas such as history, philosophy, sociology and media studies about China were discussed.

It was interesting to see that most of the experts’ opinions about China’s development were bundled with topics such as “history and modernity” and “archaeology and nature.”

Those cross-fielded opinions alerted those in attendance that Chinese civilization has never been purely about “culture.” Its evolution has been comprehensive to include all-round progresses, which is why German expert Hannes Wolfgang Reinhard said that “no text can thoroughly explain the complexity of China.”

Filippo Costantini, an expert representing Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partner country Costa Rica, told the Global Times that thanks to the BRI, Costa Rican locals who could “once only vaguely differentiate between China, Japan and South Korea” have now fallen in love with Chinese culture through co-published books and the ChinaCosta Rica research center. 

“Our cooperation is inspiring and needed,” Costantini said, adding that he believes ancient Chinese philosophy can still guide our lives today. 

What makes overseas countries want to collaborate with China? 

This was the question I pondered after hearing the speeches from the many sinologists in attendance. I was fortunate to be able to find the answer at the forum. It came from Adil Kaukenov, the chief researcher of the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies, who summed it up as “mutual trust.” As an expert contributing to Kazakhstan’s strategic development, Kaukenov said that China and Kazakhstan’s similar cultures, such as their shared love for naan flatbread, bring the two countries emotionally closer. With China’s fast development, “ChinaKazakhstan exchanges can even influence the entirety of Central Asia,” he emphasized. 

“Cultural exchange” may indeed sound abstract, but Albert Kozik, a young Polish sinologist studying Comparative Asian-Western history in Warsaw, said there are many young people who are falling in love with Chinese culture through digital channels.

At the venue, there were many visitors taking pictures with their phones. One young visitor from Thailand said that he had visited the nearby Liangzhu Museum and that the “likes” he got on X after posting his photos were “beyond my expectations.” “I could not believe how incredible those jade wares were. I think the world needs to see the magic of China,” the Thai visitor said. 

Other than the sinologist forum, the event Silk Road Artists’ Rendezvous was the most impressive part of the entire Liangzhu agenda. The program offers international artists tours of Chinese cities like Hangzhou, Shaoxing and Huzhou, where local art teachers introduce traditional Chinese art forms like landscape paintings and calligraphy. 

UBUNTUNGUMUNTU, a painting whose title means “I am, because we are” in Ugandan, attracted people’s attention during the tour. Ruganzu Bruno. T, the work’s artist, added an extra layer of “bark cloth,” a type of tree bark indigenous to Uganda, to the painting to symbolize the tombs from the ancient Liangzhu culture. He said that art allowed him to see the connection between China and Africa. 

“I’m overwhelmed by the whole Liangzhu legacy and cried when looking at Zao Wou-ki’s art. I guess that’s the power of sharing humanity,” Kate, a painter from New Zealand, said when showing me a photo of her new silk work made by using Chinese brooms as a paint brush. 

The “Liangzhu” in the “Liangzhu Forum” refers to China’s more than 5,000-year-old archaeological ruins that have become known for its jade culture. Jade, with its genteel sheen, symbolizes the humble and harmonious nature of Chinese people. 

There is an interesting saying I grasped at the event to describe the Chinese cultural spirit: “Not a ‘king,’ just ‘jade.'” This is an analogy describing the Chinese people’s spirit of seeking harmony instead of hegemony.

SOURCE Global Times

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