New step for traditional Chinese culture

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Professor Ge Jianxiong talks about traditional Chinese culture at the National Library in Beijing, Sept 12. [Photo provided to]

Ge Jianxiong, a senior professor and doctoral tutor at the Fudan University in Shanghai, shared his view on the inheritance and innovation of traditional Chinese culture with 27 international sinologists at the National Library in Beijing on Sept 12.

As one of China's leading scholars of historical studies, Ge has been committed to researches on historical geography, Chinese history, population history, migration history and cultural history for over the past three decades.

He is also a well-known public intellectual in China, and writes several popular columns and blogs in mainstream Chinese media about globalization and China's role in world affairs.

For him, traditional culture refers to the stable mainstream culture existing within a certain geographical area for a considerable amount of time.

It fits right in with that particular society, which makes it inevitably incompatible with the modern world.

"China has been undergone tremendous transformations during the past 30 years," Ge said. "The world is evolving in a speed we could never imagine before."

He said he believes these changes - social, economic, technological and cultural - place great challenges on the inheritance of traditional culture.

In light of the current circumstances, he proposed four principles for preserving traditional culture, which include keeping cultural traditions as they were, protecting all traditions without discrimination, cultivating a cultural consciousness among Chinese people and eliminating the financial pressure of inheriting traditional culture.

"People may worry that some backward traditional values will cause a negative influence in the society," Ge said.

"However, history needs to be remembered, both good and bad," he added. "That's why the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland was built, to draw lessons from the past."

As for the innovation of traditional Chinese culture, he described the strategy as skimming the cream and absorbing the quintessence.

"There is still so much we can learn from our cultural inheritance and innovate," he said.

"Creative transformation is the way to include traditional Chinese culture into future civilization of mankind."

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