Lecture program kicks off

China experts from nine countries participate in a symposium on the Chinese path to modernization, Fang Aiqing reports.

Participants at the launch ceremony of the World Sinology Lecture program themed on "why and how China's modernization matters to our times". (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

The Chinese path to modernization has epochal significance around the world, according to Alexey N. Aleksakhin, professor of the department of Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian and Thai languages at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Russia.

He was attending the launch ceremony of the World Sinology Lecture in Beijing on Jan 10, and, together with scholars from nine countries, giving an address on "why China's modernization matters to our times".

Sinology today has brand-new characteristics and a mission that attaches greater importance to realistic solicitude and frontier thinking.

Liu Li, principal, Beijing Lan-guage and Culture University

In the coming year, the World Sinology Lecture program will invite China experts from various cultural backgrounds to a monthly symposium discussing topics such as economics, politics, culture, society and ecological civilization, among others, according to Liu Hongcai, deputy head of the Chinese Association for International Understanding, one of the organizers.

Aleksakhin said that the connotations of China's path to modernization, as a key word in the report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October, help to understand China's future under the leadership of the CPC, and that China's modernization pursues the coordination of the material and spiritual sides of civilization, and promotes people's all-around development, while continuously improving their living conditions.

China's achievements in developing a social economy and culture provide precious references for other countries, including Russia, he noted.

In his speech, Aleksakhin spoke of the first Chinese emperor Qinshihuang, founder of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), who unified not only the territory of the country, but also its written language, which laid the foundation of the nation's profound cultural traditions.

For a long time, the complex writing system was accessible only to a limited, elite section of society. However, the invention of pinyin, promoted by modern Chinese leaders and linguists, which enables Chinese to be spelled out in the Roman alphabet, made it much easier for ordinary people to master the language.

With the assistance of the phonetic transcriptions, the generally speaking ideographic writing system has guaranteed language unification, technological advancement and further development of the socialist culture. Pinyin also facilitated the transition of the Chinese language from traditional media to electronic communication, Aleksakhin says.

From left: Liu Li, principal of the Beijing Language and Culture University, Sinologists Karim Alwadi, Carsten Boyer Thogersen and Fred Engst speak at the launch ceremony of the World Sinology Lecture program in Beijing on Jan 10. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Zhang Xiping, editor-in-chief of the academic journal International Sinology, added that this example proves Chinese culture has been formed and developed through continuous exchanges with the outside world.

It is through the process of mutual learning among civilizations that the nation has formed today's language and cultural systems, he said.

Carsten Boyer Thogersen, former consul general of Denmark in Shanghai, looked at "harmony in diversity", a notion put forward by the great thinker Confucius (551-479 BC) and much emphasized by the Chinese through the ages, comparing it to musical chords that sound beautiful at multiple pitches.

He said that development is based on diversity with inclusiveness, rather than a compromise or an average drawn upon individuals, and he hopes the West will learn more about Chinese culture and history.

Fred Engst, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, who is an American born and raised in China, recalled his early life in the country and pointed out that development with independence and autonomy is a key impetus for China's rise and its opening-up.

Karim Alwadi, Syrian entrepreneur and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, based in Washington, D.C., offered suggestions for the strengthening of Sino-Arab cooperation, including building more communication mechanisms for high-ranking officials and direct contact of top entrepreneurs from the two sides. He also pointed out China's potential in areas like supply chains and financing in the Arab world.

Rashad Karimov, chief adviser to the director-general of the Port of Baku, Azerbaijan, said that, while the ancient Silk Road used to link the two distant countries closely, the current Belt and Road Initiative has ushered in new opportunities in trade, transportation, logistics, communication, investment, cultural exchanges, and many other sectors, for the countries and regions involved.

According to Karimov, many Chinese products, such as mobile phones, are popular with the people of Azerbaijan and, with their high quality, trendy looks and fair price, have become an essential part of people's daily lives.

Colin Mackerras, Sinologist and professor emeritus at the Griffith University in Australia, said he believes the BRI can bring peace and development to the world in the coming decades, and has the potential to help realize Eurasian solidarity.

Li Yonghui, a professor of international relations at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, when commenting on some of the speeches, said that it is inspiring that the Sinologists look at China's modernization from a larger perspective of human civilization, and with a cultural and historical depth.

"Facing the momentous changes unseen in a century, Sinology today has brand-new characteristics and a mission that attaches greater importance to realistic solicitude and frontier thinking," said Liu Li, principal of the Beijing Language and Culture University, co-organizer of the World Sinology Lecture program.

"We'll constantly provide intellectual support for national and regional development based on the construction of both a community for the Chinese nation and a human community with a shared future," he said.

Contact the writer at fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn