It is a great honor and pleasure to be invited to Beijing to celebrate the new publications of the "Culture and Civilization of China". I would like to thank especially Vice Minister Cai and Vice President Huang of CIPG for welcoming President Rick Levin and me to Beijing for this celebration -- and for continuing to work with Yale University Press as true friends and colleagues.
I want also to bring the best wishes of Ambassador Joseph Verner Reed, who has been such a special friend to the CCC project. He regrets not being able to be here today but sends his special greetings, noting that he "is very honored to be part of the CCC family. This is a historic project which has already achieved worldwide success." I know that we all agree with him.
The two most recent books Yale University Press and the Chinese International Publishing Group have published together both draw on the amazing archeological discoveries made in China in recent decades. CHINESE SCULPTURE is a stunning survey of three thousand years of three dimensional art, from the sophisticated clay pots of the Neolithic period to the perfection of metallurgy in the Chinese Bronze Age -- a time in which metal generally preceded stone as a medium. It traces the further developments in the sculptural arts from the time Buddhism took hold in the latter part of the Han Dynasty to the end of the Song. I hope each of you will have a chance to take the time and pleasure to read the book and to appreciate the ways in which Chinese sculpture is a fully realized art whose inventiveness, purpose and brilliant execution are rooted in unique Chinese religious, intellectual and practical choices.
The publication of THE FORMATION OF CHINESE CIVILIZATION is a tremendously important event for a few reasons. First, it contains much material that has never been accessible before. As a book, it performs well as a beautiful art treasure book but also as a broad history of Chinese culture. For the English-speaking world, it is therefore a mine of information about specific archeological sites and the findings derived from them. The book should be a source for continual reference for scholars and students as well as the curious, intelligent visitors to China for generations to come.
I would like to personally thank all the writers, scholars, editors, publishers, production experts and the many others who managed the challenging process of bringing this book to light. The publication of this book gives the English-speaking world for the first time the chance to understand the base from which the younger generations of Chinese archeologists are working. Together, we publish this book in a momentous time: with the hope and expectation that understanding China's past will make great contributions to the global formulation of general principles in the social sciences.
The book also had the physical challenge of keeping up to date with all the miraculous discoveries Chinese archeologists were uncovering. It seemed that every day, a new chapter of China's rich histories was literally uncovered. It is especially gratifying and important to consider these lessons in this current moment -- one in which the world is looking at China and China is reaching out to embrace the world.
The "Culture and Civilization of China" publications remind us that even if it seems that history is indeed speeding up, we have a great deal to catch up with when looking backwards into the great past civilizations of the great Chinese culture. It is indeed a great privilege to be pairing the efforts of Yale University Press and the Chinese International Publishing Group into such a fruitful partnership. And I welcome the chance to celebrate many more collaborations.
(China.org.cn November 14, 2006)