Focusing on people-to-people exchange and two other topics, the first Taihe Civilizations Forum attracted global attention
The first Taihe Civilizations Forum, organized by Taihe Institute, was held in Beijing from August 25th to 27th. Aimed to explore on ‘how to seek common values throughout human civilizations development’, the event brought together experts and professionals from academic, politics and business fields and has achieved outcomes and mutual understanding in different approaches; showcasing a profound truth of ‘continuous dialogues and cohesion between different cultures and fields aids in the evolution of civilizations.’
Joseph Merante, executive director of Humpty Dumpty Institute, introduced a campaign conducted by the Department of States as part of the cultural diplomacy; showing how the United States reduced hostility and engendered goodwill through music exchanges. They chose hip-hop music to influence young Arabians between 12 and 17 who were most likely to be radicalized. Also, they brought the entire Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra to perform at Kennedy Center in Washington so that the members could better understand and respect American culture when they got back to Iraq, which in return increased support within the United States of U.S. policies in Iraq by showing a positive outcome of a very messy war. This two-way program promoted trade and business activities, which further brought down possibility of conflicts. This is a vivid example of mutual learning and integration between different civilizations.
The first Taihe Civilizations Forum achieved beneficial results in various approaches.
Conducting discussions on three main topics, namely ‘people-to-people exchange’, ‘artificial intelligence and digital citizenship’, and ‘climate change and sustainable development’, nearly 40 guests came up with more than 60 main theses, and 20 actionable approaches through the dialogues carried out; speeches and discussions, brought rich results to the first Taihe Civilizations Forum.
GU Boping, chief cultural scholar of Taihe Institute, made his points during opening speeches. He suggested that we should all give up pride and prejudice to realize that diversified cultures have no discrimination in good or bad. Through comparative studies, researches, as well as mutual learning and integration, the civilizations improvement will be promoted, which in result, a harmonious and sustainable development of human society would be achieved. In the following one and a half days, nearly one hundred experts had inspiring dialogues, lightening up sparks of wisdom.
Speaking of the themes of this forum, Thorsten Jelinek, director of Europe Centre of Taihe Institute, noted the increasing clash of civilizations, on the contrary, could contribute in mutual understanding and for sharing and developing joint values.
WU Hailong, president of Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs, addressed that the core issue of human development is ‘how to make different cultures respect each other, coexist and develop harmoniously’. He also pointed out that ‘cultural differences should not be the root of global conflicts. Instead, cultural diversify could aid in motivate the advancement of human civilizations.’
All these points of view happened to coincide with the vision of China’s foreign policy in recent years, which is to advocate win-win cooperation and to build a community of shared future for mankind. This has set the basic tone of the forum. As a result, participants had a clear vision and direction discussing upon the main theme of the forum--how to seek common values throughout human civilizations development.
‘Blossoming and Contending’ – A glimpse of the inspiring ideas and opinions from the forum
Unqualified success at the three parallel sessions of the Taihe Civilizations Forum.
Experts from different background have had exciting dialogues at three parallel sessions during Taihe Civilizations Forum.
When discussing cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries, Stephen Orlins, president of the National Committee on United States-China Relations, said that China-U.S. relations were facing some obstacles, which made cultural exchanges more important than ever, since it would become the lubricant of the relations. This has brought him a sense of mission. Meanwhile, this forum would play a more significant role in the future fostering China-U.S. relation development.
Some arguments from other experts are also innovative. YU Hongjun, Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament, suggested that the Belt and Road Initiative would be a great opportunity to promote cultural exchanges across borders.
Long Yongtu, member of the advisory committee of the Boao Forum for Asia, and Secretary General of G20 Research Center, also proposed that within the context of globalization, scientific technology should be utilized as the driving force of the globalization; while, transnational corporations should shoulder more social responsibilities, and the government should contribute in solving the imbalance of benefits allocation. Once corporation globalization process becomes humanistic sensible, it could better help promote people-to-people exchange as well.
Julia Pierrepont III, director and producer from Hollywood especially suggested that for China-U.S. film cooperation, China could learn from Hollywood’s history and models, such as establishing foundations to encourage film-making and jointly working on film production, TV series and videos.
All these suggestions and proposals are worth pondering as they provided actionable plans for future cultural exchanges between China and the outside world.
For ‘artificial intelligence’ session, participants including Scott Beaumont, President of Google Greater China, SHEN Xiaowei, Director of IBM Research China, Tim Pan, Deputy Dean of Microsoft Research Asia and FEI Lianghong, Amazon AWS Chief advisor of Cloud Computing Technology, introduced the latest updates of AI by sharing information on the most advanced AI applications from their own enterprises. They explained the idea that AI could be a tool and an extension of human brain, and clarified misunderstandings in this field.
SHEN Xiaowei introduced four directions of future AI development, while Tim Pan pointed out that only by simulating emotions could robots provide better service to people’s daily life. Both DING Yifan, senior researcher at Taihe Institute, and SHANG Rong, vice president of Microsoft China Research & Development Group, proposed that humans should be prepared for potential social issues that are likely to be created or raised by AI. They also argued that the development of AI should benefit everyone, including the vulnerable groups. WANG Guangxi, managing director of Lenovo Venture Capital and Incubator Group, said that in the future intelligent Internet era, AI will be the most important part among the core revolutions.
In terms of industrial norms, HE Jiangtao, founder and CEO of iRobotCity, introduced the robot guardian accountability system and property ownership system in his company. WANG Jie, researcher at Taihe Institute, said that the development of AI would definitely lead to massive lay-offs, which should be prepared and controlled in advance.
All of the speakers agreed that the singularity would come, but the time depends on the development of raw materials and technologies for computer manufacture. There is no need to panic, but continuous review throughout the process of AI development and the establishment of corresponding principles and standards are essential.
In the ‘climate change and sustainable development’ session, photographer Diane Tuft and documentary filmmaker Bill Megalos who have spent more than 10 years recording climate changes on earth’s landscapes, shared their works and experiences about how the Antarctic glacier, the nature and humans, especially the vulnerable groups were affected by climate change. Evidence shown in their videos and slides were irrefutable and touching.
Within the context of the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, participants like LI Junfeng, former Director and Researcher of National Center for Climate Change Strategy Research and International Cooperation, ZHANG Haibin, Director of the Center of International Organization Studies of Peking University, and LI Xinlei, Deputy Director of the Environmental and Politics Research Center at Shandong University, discussed governance towards global climate change, the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and China’s role in this agenda from different perspectives.
Cameron Hume, special adviser of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, stressed the important role of the information dissemination channels and its effectiveness for the measures of climate change and sustainable development. Meanwhile, YU Hongyuan, Director of Institute for Comparative Politics and Public Policy at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, shared his views on the possible trends and challenges of China’s mineral related cooperating strategy under The Belt and Road’s call , and its impacts on sustainable development.
WEN Zongguo, Director of Environmental Management and Policy Institute at Tsinghua University, provided suggestions on CO2 mitigation potential and practical pathways for different circumstances and key sectors in China. ZHU Chunquan, Country Representative of IUCN China Office and Council Member of Ecological Society of China, LIU Xiaohai, chief representative of Conservation International’s Beijing office, and LIN Yongsheng, researcher at Taihe Institute and director of China Market Economy Research Center at Beijing Normal University, all underscored the importance of reviewing the current GDP calculation and government performance evaluation systems, as well as exploring the possibility of introducing new concepts and indication systems for China’s sustainable development, for instance, Gross Ecosystem Product (GEP), Blue Carbon Initiative, Green Development Index and Genuine Progress Indicator, etc.
Participants of the forum considered that the first Taihe Civilizations Forum, which gathered together global elites and came up with valuable solutions, has been held at a critical point in which human society is stepping into a brand new phase.
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