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Sinologists gather in Shanghai

By Cao Chen in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2019-09-11 09:03

Development of nation can shed light on benefits of a growing economy

Around 300 Sinologists have gathered at the ongoing Eighth World Forum on China Studies to reflect upon global challenges and foster an informed understanding between China and the rest of the world.

The two-day forum, a biennial event jointly organized by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and the Information Office of Shanghai since 2004, opened on Tuesday in Shanghai. This year, it is themed China and the World: Progressing Together Over 70 Years.

"The world is undergoing major changes with mounting challenges and risks in governance, mutual confidence as well as peace and development. This has resulted in the release of a statement that calls for all countries to act together against this background," Huang Kunming, head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said during the opening ceremony.

"We hope the forum will provide international scholars who specialize in China a platform to share their insights, explore how the country is connected with the world and understand the meaning of its development to the world," Huang said.

The forum features an opening plenary session, two special panels, six roundtable discussions and a concluding plenary session on topics such as the Belt and Road Initiative and new trends and features of China studies overseas.

Bert Hofman, director of the East Asian Institute of National University of Singapore who addressed the opening plenary section, said China's success in development and poverty reduction is of great interest to the rest of the world.

"Understanding China's past reforms and the basis for China's success is important for China's future reforms - understanding the path traveled, the circumstances under which historical decisions were made and what their effects were on the course of China's economy - and will inform decision-makers on where to go next," Hofman said.

At the time of the founding of the People's Republic of China, the country was among the poorest in the world. Contrast this to next year when China hopes to celebrate the elimination of absolute poverty among its people.

"China's experiences will benefit other countries as well, as more countries see China as an example to emulate, a model of development that could mean moving from rags to riches within a generation," Hofman added.

Fan Gang, a professor of economics at Peking University, stressed that the development of China has been a critical case that can shed light on the benefits of a growing economy.

"Cheap and abundant labor is the most often-mentioned comparative advantage of developing countries. However, this has not been the only reason for the robust development of China over the past four decades," said Fan, also chairman of the China Development Institute.

Knowledge, he said, is a pivotal element that differentiates developing countries from developed ones.

Apart from the discussions, the forum also presented several scholars with the Award for Outstanding Contributions to China Studies in recognition of their accomplishments in the academic discipline. Recipients included Nicholas Platt, president emeritus of the Asia Society in the United States; Hamashita Takeshi, research department head of Japan's largest Asian studies library Toyo Bunko; Kristofer Schipper, a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and Tu Weiming, professor of humanities at Peking University.

"I am deeply honored to accept this award for contributions to China Studies," said Platt.

He said the Sino-US relationship over the years has become intertwined and neither side can take action against the other without hurting themselves.

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