Wang Ronghua, former President of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, delivers his Honorary Speech at the forum

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Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

In this golden autumn, I am very pleased to meet all the new and old friends of China studies here at the Forum for the fourth time. Seven years have passed since we held the first World Forum on China Studies. During the years, thanks to domestic and overseas friends for their enthusiastic attentions and energetic supports to the growth and development of the forum, the influence of the forum keep increasing and its position also witnesses gradual escalation. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all of you and I believe our joint efforts in the future will surely further expand its academic influence and enable it to be a really important platform for international academic dialogue.

The theme of the forum, “Joint Development on the Basis of Harmony and Cooperation: China Integrating into a Diverse World,” is derived from the same origin as the themes of the previous three forums, but with different focuses of different levels. They all have “harmony” as their core concepts. The theme of the first forum, “Harmony but not Uniformity,” called for the respect of cultural diversity; the theme of the second forum, “Harmony and Peace,” explored the world significance of China development; the third forum, “Common Challenges, Common Efforts,” discussed the ways of China and the world to coexist; all these themes finally go to “Joint Development on the Basis of Harmony and Cooperation.” Different nationalities, countries, civilizations and cultures coexist on one earth and realize their respective development in the process of seeking common development.

“Harmony,” as the core values of China’s traditional culture, obtains new annotation and connotation in the globalization era. According to a media survey in China, the word “harmony” got the most votes. The World Forum on China Studies give priority to “harmony” in its themes for successive four sessions, which echoes people’s vote in the survey. This is definitely not a coincidence or a choice of concept, but represents Chinese people’s confidence of Chinese nationality and China’s future, reflecting the common pursuit of the Chinese people and peoples all over the world.

“Joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation” is the philosophic concept from ancient Chinawhich has been followed firmly by the Chinese people. The two characters “harmony” and “cooperation” appeared in the oracle bone script and bronze script more than 3,000 years ago. In scriptures like the Discourses of the States,Analects of Guanzi and the Analects of Mo-tse, “harmony” and “cooperation” were connected together for the first time. In these scriptures, China’s sages put forward that “Harmony can vitalize the world, while uniformity cannot.” They believed that different things can coordinate with each other for common progresses, which enables everything to be prosperous; if we include only things of the same kind while excluding things of other types, we would block the way of development and cannot make innovation. They further put forward that “things of various kinds can grow together without harming each other and the road can extend in parallel without contradiction;” “we should seek harmony in differences;” only on the basis of “harmony” can “cooperation” be conducted; thus, “harmony and cooperation” is the precondition of coexistence.” Based on the respect of diversity and differences, we can realize the goal of common development through mutual beneficial competition.

China’s ancient literature specially stresses the importance of “harmony and cooperation” to the powerfulness of a country and peace of the world. A harmonious and cooperative family leads to prosperity; a harmonious and cooperative country leads to powerfulness and a harmonious and cooperative world leads to peace. In contrast, an unharmonious and uncooperative family leads to separation and disputes; an unharmonious and uncooperative country leads to poverty and chaos; and an unharmonious and uncooperative world leads to instability and wars; unharmonious and uncooperative relations between human beings and the nature lead to unsustainable development and ecological collapse. Without “harmony and cooperation, the future of human beings and the earth is unpredictable.

The concept of “joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation” is from the profound perceiving of Chinese ancient sages to the nature. According to the Book of Change, the core of the natural changes is the “harmony and cooperation.” Only when every thing in the nature follows the rules of change can it complete its development cycles and grow lush. The Scripture of Great Peace regards “everything in harmony and cooperation” and “following the changes of ying and yang” as the major rules of the nature. This is the connection between social governance and natural laws, expressing the values of “everything growing in parallel” and “unity of human and the nature.” The final goal is to achieve harmonious coexistence of human and the nature for joint development and prosperity.

“Joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation” is China’s traditional wisdom, values and ideality in the 5,000 years of Chinese civilization. The history of integration and formation of Chinese nationality vividly explains the term of “joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation.” The sea is big enough to refuse no river and a powerful person is tolerant of others. Because of the concept of joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation, Chinese nationality can grow continually and remains unchanged several thousands of years. In this sense, Chinese culture can also be called “harmony-cooperation culture.”

The concept of “joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation” has been deep rooted in the hearts of the common people in China, like a seed growing into a big tree. The Hanshan Temple in Suzhou enshrines two god statues: god of “harmony” and god of “cooperation.” The two gods are in charge of marriage and people from various parts come to the temple to pray for happy families and lives. The “harmony and cooperation” in marriage is the epitome and basis of “harmony and cooperation” of various relations. Chinese people value family stability, as well as the stability of the society and international system. This is the most direct evidence that the concept of “joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation” being deep rooted in the folk culture and people’s minds. The “harmony-cooperation culture” is so deeply influencing the Chinese people that every Chinese is brought up under the atmosphere ever since his or her childhood. This is the value rules of for them. Generations of politicians, thinkers and litterateurs grown under such atmosphere have left their traces of practicing “harmony-cooperation culture” in history.

Entering the modern era, the ideology circle of Chinaconstantly expands and enriches “harmony-cooperation culture.” One of the most important people is Mr. Fei Xiaotong, who put forward his motto that “different charms with different characteristics, learning to appreciate different charms, sharing charms with others for the world harmony and unity.” Mr. Fei vividly and precisely interpreted the temporary significance of “joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation” in the process of integration of various cultures. He believed that various cultures have their respective charms and cherishing and protecting the charms are vital to these cultures; different cultures should respect each other and absorb advantages from each other, so as to realize the integration and joint development in the process of learning from and absorbing advantages from each other and reach the ultimate goal of a harmonious world. Mr. Fei’s idea of “sharing charms with each other” is applicable not only to the aesthetics, but also to other realms such as sociology, ethnology and culturology, serving as another interpretation of “joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation.

Contemporary China’s processes of reform and opening up and the construction of modernization have brought huge space for “harmony-cooperation culture.” After the reform and opening up, China has been constructing its socialism market economy and is currently in the stage of great development; culturally, China encourages development in every sector, leading to the situation of cultural prosperity; China has deep and extensive cooperation with other countries, entering the new phase of peaceful development. Entering the 21st Century, China is now in the structural transition period that has never appeared in history. This is the transition period for economic structure, social structure, cultural structure and even the international system. This is the multiple transition period rarely seen worldwide, which also witnesses emergence of various contradiction. However, China did not have stagnancy or crisis during the transition period, but has experienced rapid development which is rarely seen worldwide. The reason is that China is committed to scientific, harmonious and peaceful development. More importantly, China has integrated the concept of “joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation” into the core philosophy of its development strategy. This is China’s development experience, which can be shared by various countries.

Thus, the concept of “joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation” is long-lasting beyond time and universal beyond space. Its prime significance in the contemporary world is that it respect diversity of materials and civilizations, and respect different values, different models and different development roads resulted from the differences. Only when we respect different interest subjects and let them develop independently can we seek our common interests of higher levels. Mencius said that “It is natural that things are different from each other.” It is normal and essential that things in this world are different; and so do human beings. Only under the precondition of “difference” can “harmony and cooperation” find their positions, and can “joint development based on harmony and cooperation” be the common choice worldwide.

The second important significance of the concept of “joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation” in contemporary world is equality, mutual help and cooperation. Only on the basis of equality can mutual help and cooperation be conducted; only through mutual help and cooperation can different cultures and different countries coexist in one world; and only through joint growth and development can we achieve peaceful development, harmonious development and sustainable development. The world today is not very stable and human beings are facing complicated threats and challenges. Holding cold-war ideology and hegemonism cannot reach interest goals, but can hamper the process of human beings jointly copping with surviving threats. In this sense, it is of special significance to reconsider the concept of “joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation.”

The third important significance of “joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation” is to realize the energy-saving and environment-friendly development model. The concept of joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation is applicable not only to governance, but also to the rule recognition of human-nature relations. “Unity between human and the nature” require human beings to respect and friendly treat the nature. We should do everything according to the natural laws and use the natural resources properly and thriftily. Concepts such as “low-carbon economy,” “green economy” and “recyclable economy” are the embodiment of harmonious and cooperation relations between human beings and the nature. The world needs the concept at this moment more than in any other time.

Economic globalization and the Internet technology closely connect various parts of the world. “To have a bosom friend in the other part of the earth and to make a friend afar as near as your neighbor” is no longer a dream of poets. In the global village, human beings have linked up with each other into a “fate community.” However, there are also various visible and invisible barriers and great chasms that divide the closely connected world into different groups and allies with frequent frictions and even conflicts. The space of the world is narrowed down, but the distance among hearts of people is not shortened. If we cannot promote joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation, our neighborhood may be regarded as far as in the other part of our globe. If so, this would be the common situation of people-to-people relations and even international relations against the background of globalization. Then, globalization would go in the opposite direction and become disintegration. This is not good news for human beings. We try to seek a perfect world, but are facing a world with conflicts. We should go beyond ethnic conflicts, national disputes and cultural discriminations and narrow down the distance among the heart of every people. All these depend on our unremitting efforts in pursuing “joint development on the basis of harmony and cooperation.”

Friends, we discussed the core concept of “harmony” in successive four World Forum on China Studies and are deepening and developing the concept. But we still cannot find out all its significance. This is the charm of Chinastudies, as well as our primary idea of establishing the forum. I sincerely hope that we can continue our discussion in this regard and develop the forum into a real international academic platform with joint efforts of our friends here and more friends.

Thank you everyone.

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