Ge Jianxiong, Professor at Fudan University, suggested during yesterday’s International Forum on the “Cultural Mission of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area”, that mainland China should first respect and acknowledge the cultural differences in Hong Kong and Macau if mainland China wants to build “cultural confidence.”
“We should admit that due to important historical reasons, Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan are subcultures within the greater Chinese culture,” said Ge. “We can certainly find some differences among our own cultures, even from the perspective of some important values, such as ideology.”
“As long as these differences do not affect people’s recognition of the greater Chinese culture, and do not affect people’s love towards the country and their acceptance of One Country, Two Systems, we should see that these differences are playing an active and positive role,” said Ge.
Themed as “Cultural Confidence and Mutual Learning among Civilizations,” Ge’s speech endorsed both Chinese history and Chinese culture.
However, the mainland professor repeatedly reminded the audience not to forget that, historically, China has learned from multiple civilizations.
“We can be sure that the Chinese civilization became mature 3,800 years ago, […] but the Chinese civilization is not the earliest one. Chinese culture is definitely one of the greatest civilizations in history, […] but, during its development, it constantly learned and absorbed the essence of other civilizations,” said Ge.
He gave an example: bronze, wheat and linen were brought to China from west Asia.
“We could see that, actually, an abundant amount of material civilization is the result of our constant learning and absorbing of foreign culture,” Ge noted.
The professor elaborated on his opinion by noting that in the Qing dynasty, the Chinese population boomed to 400 million people due to corn, potatoes, peanuts, and other farming products being introduced to China from America.
He also acknowledged that China “accepted completely” Japanese-made Chinese words.
“The Japanese used Chinese characters to translate nearly all terminology of social sciences and humanity subjects. China took all of them at face value, and then formed the basic vocabulary of modern Chinese,” said Ge, adding that “a culture, a civilization and a country can learn constantly from rather advanced and more prospecting aspects of foreign culture. A culture, a civilization and a country can be more confident about their own culture, civilization and country because they are constantly learning from other more advanced civilizations.”
In regards to mutual learning from different cultures, the Chinese professor questioned the audience as well as the mainland Chinese community by asking, “do we have to and how can we force our desires into other people?”
In the end, Ge proposed that those on the mainland should study carefully which parts of other cultures are worth learning from.