QUFU, SHANDONG - Media OutReach Newswire - 11 July 2024 - In 2021, during the China-Greece Year of Culture and Tourism, a sculpture titled “Divine Encounter” was placed at the foot of the Parthenon on Acropolis Hill in Athens, Greece. It depicts a dialogue between Socrates and Confucius, symbolizing the profound exchanges between Chinese and Greek civilizations. The timeless conversation between these two sages portrayed in the artwork illuminates the historical bonds that bridge Eastern and Western cultures.

    Building on the spirit of cross-cultural dialogue, the 10th Nishan Forum on World Civilizations begins on Wednesday in Qufu City in east China’s Shandong Province. The forum, themed “Traditional Cultures and Modern Civilizations,“ continues to promote mutual learning and common development among different civilizations.

    The forum is named after the Nishan Mountain, formerly known as the Ni Qiu Hill, about 30 kilometers southeast of Qufu – the birthplace of the great Chinese thinker and educator Confucius.

    Nishan is a major platform for exchanges and mutual learning between Chinese and foreign civilizations. It promotes cultural inheritance and development while sharing China’s stories with the world, Xi Yanchun, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Shandong Provincial Committee, told CGTN.

    “Today, Nishan, which is confident, open and inclusive, has become an important platform for dialogues among diverse civilizations around the globe. It is an important window for countries around the world to gain insights into Chinese culture, “ she said.

    This year’s forum brings together nearly 400 international guests, including foreign dignitaries, representatives from international organizations, ambassadors to China and global experts to explore ways to integrate diverse cultural perspectives and find solutions to common global challenges. The 2024 edition, featuring keynote speeches, high-level interviews, sub-topic discussions and parallel forums, will see the largest number of participants in the forum’s history and be hosted on the largest scale to date as it welcomes attendees from 63 countries, over 50 percent of whom are international scholars.

    “Even in today’s highly technological society in Japan, Confucianism still exists and continues to develop,“ said Yasuo Fukuda, chairman of the International Confucian Association and former Japanese Prime Minister, during the opening ceremony.

    “The essence of Confucianism lies in its focus on societal and national stability, guiding us on how to live. Its principles are universal, applicable across the world and in any era. This demonstrates that Confucianism can become a globally popular philosophy and way of thinking,“ he said.

    Confucius is believed to have lived from 551 to 479 BCE. Throughout his life, he emphasized morality, social harmony and education. His teachings, recorded in the “Analects,“ laid the foundation for Confucianism and continue to inspire people worldwide.

    This year’s forum discussions highlight Confucianism’s deep connections with human civilization and its relevance in addressing modern challenges. For instance, there will be an in-depth dialogue between the classical civilizations of China and Italy and discussions on how ancient Chinese wisdom and the ideas of contemporaneous Western philosophers can help address contemporary issues.

    “The Confucian notion of harmony without uniformity is the best interpretation of the current era,“ said Jeffrey D. Sachs, a professor of economics at Columbia University and president of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. “No country is supreme on its own. We are bound together and share the world’s oceans, air, biodiversity, fuel supply and food. That is why harmony is essential.”

    “Ancient Chinese and Western philosophers both addressed ethical issues in their respective regions and sought the best ways to govern. In today’s interconnected world, we need to jointly explore a global ethical framework,“ he said.

    “Chinese traditional civilization, including Confucianism, offers solutions to modern problems,“ said Minister of Culture and Tourism Sun Yeli. “We are committed to deepen exchanges and mutual learning with civilizations from around the world through Nishan Forum and to continuously enhance our cultural cooperation.”

    In addition to discussions on exchanges among civilizations amid global challenges, other discussion topics include the ethical integration of AI into society and the modernization of traditional medicine by combining ancient practices with modern scientific research, potentially leading to breakthroughs in healthcare.

    This year’s forum will also include sessions on sports and family culture for the first time. The sports forum focuses on the connection between traditional Chinese culture and the Olympic spirit, emphasizing shared values like moral excellence, respect and harmony.

    “The Olympics aim to build bridges and foster understanding among different cultures. The Nishan Forum shares this goal, deepening understanding through respectful dialogues and exchanges,“ said International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at the opening ceremony.

    “Civilization needs to adapt to new circumstances as times, lifestyles and production methods change. It must continually reflect and evolve,“ noted Dong Ping, a professor at the School of Philosophy, Zhejiang University.

    In line with this, the Nishan Forum continually broadens the scope of cultural exchanges, prioritizing dialogue on major issues, such as religion, ecology and societal change. Established 14 years ago in response to a United Nations initiative, it continues to serve as a vital platform for fostering international dialogue and cultural understanding.

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