Source: China State Council Information Office 3
The second edition of Oriental Civilization Summit Dialogue, co-hosted by the Mencius Foundation and Qufu School of Confucian Classics, was held on Saturday in Shenzhen, South China’s Guangdong province.
Themed “The Mencius Wisdom: Exchanges and Mutual Learning Between Civilizations”, the event gathered luminaries from home and abroad to discuss the contemporary relevance of the thoughts of Mencius (372-289 BC).
The event featured keynote speakers including Enrico Letta, a former prime minister of Italy and president of the Jacques Delors Institute, a think tank; Meng Liang, chair of the Mencius Foundation and the 79th-generation descendant of Mencius; and Kong Zhong, vice chair of the World Federation of Confucius’ Descendants and the 78th-generation descendant of Confucius (551-479 BC).
Letta said in his speech that clashes of civilizations are often a result of ignorance, so to avoid clashes, the first step should be to eliminate ignorance and break stereotypes about each other to foster mutual understanding.
“The lack of mutual knowledge is the true beginning of every fight, but to have mutual knowledge, we have to start by knowing the legacy of different civilizations,” Letta commented.
The dialogue provided a great opportunity to learn about Mencius’ wisdom, which is not only a legacy for the Chinese people or a legacy for the Asian civilization, but can also offer many lessons for European people, he said, adding that traditional European wisdom, such as that of ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Italian Renaissance thinker Agostino Nifo (circa 1473-1538) shares similarity with Confucianism.
Letta, who is also dean of the Paris School of International Affairs at Sciences Po in Paris, highlighted the importance of education, a significant component of Mencius’ legacy, for boosting mutual understanding and cultivating well-educated people to outperform technology and artificial intelligence which are becoming the very heart of everything.
Meng Liang said in his speech that the original intention of establishing the Mencius Foundation was to better communicate Confucianism, show the world the excellent traditional Chinese culture, and promote cultural exchanges between the East and the West.
Since 2017, the foundation has held a series of forums themed on oriental civilization, inviting dignitaries from the fields of politics, culture, art and economies, to share their insights about Confucianism.
Kong remarked that the creative transformation and innovative development of Confucianism amid the Chinese nation’s great rejuvenation, can help the ancient Chinese philosophy shine brighter and enable it to contribute Chinese wisdom and solutions in addressing global challenges, promoting world peace and encouraging the development of world civilizations.