Mutual understanding between France and China:The third encounter between the West and China

[Source]    Confucius Institute of Alsace [Time]    2011-05-16 16:03:14 

On May 9th 2011, Professor JIN Siyan answered the invitation of the Confucius Institute of Alsace to give a lecture in Strasbourg on the following topic: "The Sino-French mutual knowledge: the third encounter between the West and China." Mr HEIDER, former vice president of the Regional Council of Alsace, now Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Confucius Institute of Alsace and Mr LIU Haifeng, Director of the Confucius Institute of Alsace, as well as teachers and students of the Institute attended the lecture.

The first encounter between China and the West goes back to the sixteenth century whereas the second took place in the nineteenth century. They both ended up in a war.

The reason we ended up here is, according to JIN Siyan that "the encounter between China and the West is a clash between two cultural spaces opposing themselves. Both parties consider the other in a relationship of opposition, learning and mutual criticism, like a mirror. When one of the two parties goes beyond its borders and attempts to take the mirror, it makes use of its cultural standards to force the "Other" and then a conflict occurs which brings terror and threats. "

We are now in the middle of a third encounter between China and the West. The success of this encounter depends on two factors: first the ability of China and the West to establish a fair cross-cultural dialogue starting from the prerequisites that the culture of the other party shall be respected and secondly the ability of this cross-cultural dialogue to have an effective reach and a real diversity, e.g. its ability to include different civilizations such as Africa, Latin America, Asia Pacific, which are civilizations we once do not fully consider.

Western and Chinese civilizations have a long and brilliant history. Trying to determine which of the two civilizations surprised the other is not so important because our goal is not to make sure that one single civilization remain nor to make the entire world even more harmonious. Seeking out for our differences is much more important to us : in a multicultural world, we seek methods to develop a pluralistic coexistence, a world with much more diversity, similar to what Confucius once said, several thousand years ago : "The world is harmonious and different at the same time."

Picture 1: Mr HEIDER welcomed the participants.

Picture 2: Professor JIN Siyan talks about the third encounter between China and the West.

Picture 3: a fierce debate.