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"Inheritance and Mutual Learning" – 20th Beijing Forum opens
Nov 04, 2023
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The Beijing Forum, co-sponsored by Peking University (PKU), the Beijing Municipal Education Commission, and the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies, marks its 20th anniversary with calls for mutual learning and continuing legacies across civilizations, in the pursuit of harmony and common prosperity.

Peking University, November 4, 2023: The 20th Beijing Forum commenced at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on Nov. 3, 2023, under the theme of "The Harmony of Civilizations and Prosperity of All: Inheritance & Mutual Learning.” Experts and scholars from around the world convened to share their profound insights on pressing global issues.

The opening ceremony was graced by Wang Guangqian, Vice Chairman of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and Executive Vice Chairman of the China Democratic League Central Committee, Academician Han Qide, Vice Chairman of the 10th and 11th National  People’s Congress and Vice Chairman of the 12th National Committee of the CPPCC, You Jun, Member of the Standing Committee and Secretary of the Education Commission of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee, and other esteemed guests from Chinese organizations.

The Forum, which is being held between Nov. 3 and 5, also hosted Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Former Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, UChicago President Paul Alivisatos, University of Tokyo President Teruo Fujii, University of Adelaide President Peter Høj, President of Chey Institute for Advanced Studies Park In-kook, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, and other international guests.

PKU Council Chair Hao Ping, PKU President Gong Qihuang, and other School leaders attended the opening ceremony. PKU Vice President and Provost Wang Bo presided over the opening ceremony.

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Group photo at the Beijing Forum opening ceremony

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Hao Ping (left) at the Beijing Forum opening ceremony

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Gong Qihuang speaks at the opening ceremony

On behalf of Peking University, Gong Qihuang delivered an opening speech, highlighting that the Beijing Forum provides an invaluable platform for meaningful discussions for solutions to global issues. He hoped that through the panel discussions at the forum, participants could contribute wisdom towards achieving the harmony of civilizations.

In his speech, President Gong also shared three insights on the role of higher education institutions, asserting that modern universities should strive to continue cultural legacies and promote sustainable development of human civilization, as well as serve as a bridge for mutual cultural exchange.

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Paul Alivisatos delivers a video message

Paul Alivisatos expressed his hope for further academic collaboration when solving global issues in a video message. Collegiality and openness as exhibited by the academic research community, according to Alivisatos, present a model for broader global collaboration in addressing issues like climate change.

“Looking to the future, the new PKU Center in Chicago present an exciting pathway to strengthen and increase engagement between our two institutions while simultaneously advancing academic discovery and addressing the global challenges facing our world today,” said Alivisatos.

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Irina Bokova delivers a speech at the ceremony

Irina Bokova remarked that it is propitious that the Beijing Forum follows the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and believes that intellectual and moral solidarity will be forged among scholars at the Forum.

Drawing examples from the BRI and the new “Global Civilization Initiative” launched earlier this year, Bokova called for more intellectual, scientific, and educational discussions for the peace and well-being of humanity.

“Over millennia, the wondrous story of the Silk Road has been one of encounters between people, cultures, religions and knowledge. These encounters have shaped civilizations over the ages… gave birth to literacy and scientific treasures, to traditions and artistic practices,” said Bokova.

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Yukio Hatoyama delivers a speech at the ceremony

Yukio Hatoyama emphasised the importance of harmony among civilizations as a basis for the prosperity of all in his speech. He pointed out that fraternity and friendship are key to overcoming challenges such as international conflicts.

Hatoyama called for mutual respect and common development while advocating for cooperation driven by common interests and common values of humanity.

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Chey Tae-won delivers a video message at the forum

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won pointed out in a video message that we live in an “era of transformation,” from the geopolitical landscape to the way people communicate. Chey urged for the launch of a collective effort and pointed out that the Beijing Forum acts as a cornerstone of cross-cultural dialogue, synthesizing collective wisdom for the betterment of humanity. “The Beijing Forum bridges the gaps between knowledge and action… charting a course towards a more sustainable and harmonious co-prosperity for all.”

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You Jun speaks at the ceremony

You Jun highlighted the contributions the Beijing Forum has made over the past 20 years in encouraging mutual understanding and dialogue between civilizations. He believes that the Beijing Forum will be a bridge to construct closer communication mechanisms, converge stronger forces in coping with volatility, and foster deeper friendships among youths.

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To celebrate 20 years of hosting the Beijing Forum, the “Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Beijing Forum: Selected Keynotes,” edited by Professor Zhai Kun, prepared by the Secretariat of the Beijing Forum, and published by Peking University Press, was officially released. With the publication of this book, the Forum aims to honor the achievements over the past 20 years and strives to achieve greater academic heights in the future.

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Launching ceremony of the Digital Intelligence International Development Education Alliance

To embrace new opportunities and tackle challenges in the digital age, Peking University, under the support and guidance of the Ministry of Education, invited 30 local and foreign universities to establish the Digital Intelligence International Development Education Alliance (DI-IDEA). The alliance hoped to navigate solutions based on digital and intelligent governance and provide academic support and policy recommendations to improve societal welfare. Academicians from various universities stood in unison to launch the DI-IDEA, marking this pivotal moment in the new age of university collaboration.

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Park In-kook chairs the keynote addresses segment

The keynote speech session was presided over by Park In-kook. In an era that highlights civilizational differences, experts share their takes on inter-civilizational and cross-cultural understanding using a multidisciplinary approach. Wang Guangqian, Gene Block, Teruo Fujii, and Gao Wen, Director of PKU Faculty of Information and Engineering spoke at the keynote speech session.

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Wang Guangqian delivers a keynote speech on ecological protection

With a detailed analysis of the problems and strategies of ecological protection in various function-oriented ecological zones in China, Academician Wang Guangqian emphasised the importance of enforcing ecological security in the Chinese path to modernization. The last twenty years saw the reduction of sandstorms and the construction of shelterbelts based on the implementation of several key strategic paths in China. With reference to the construction of “Three Zones and Four Belts,” Wang gave suggestions to how China can enhance ecological construction in its path to modernization.

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Gene Block delivers keynote speech on digital intelligence

Professor Gene Block shed insight on how global collaboration shapes digital intelligence. He points out that the future of digital technology is dependent on three key principles — firstly, to adopt a global perspective and enhance global collaboration; secondly, to promote equity by adhering to principles of diversity, inclusivity, and ethics; thirdly, to partake in multidisciplinary research to welcome challenges and opportunities brought by new technologies.

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Teruo Fujii speaks on artificial intelligence

Professor Teruo Fujii presented on the advancement of artificial intelligence and the role of universities in an age of major transformations. The President of University of Tokyo put forward the idea of creating the future through dialogue. Brainstorming, solution-sharing, and enhancing interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers, according to Fujii, are possible ways to build a world that adapts well to changes.

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Gao Wen introduces developments in computational power

Gao Wen’s speech on computational power introduced the challenges and demands in developing the China Computing NET (C2NET). He proposed the construction of a cloud super computational power center and a direct-connect optical network, as well as building a cloud-native network to realize cross-regional scheduling of computing power.

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Themes of subforums

The Beijing Forum, initiated in 2004, is an annual event organized under the auspices of the Beijing Municipal Government and the Ministry of Education. In addition to the main forum, the Beijing Forum 2023, which coincides with PKU's "Global Engagement Year," includes 16 sub-forums and four thematic forums, diving deeper into topics like modernization, sustainable development, and Chinese and world history studies, so as to promote international cooperation and the common progress of humanity.

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Group photo

This article was featured in the special coverage of PKU's Global Engagement Year.

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Written by: Teo Si Min, Chen Chuyun, Jawad Shabbir, Zhang Ying
Edited by: Wu Jiayun
Photos by: Li Xianghua, Cao Qianqian, Qi Liang, Cao Hanxiao, Courtesy of the organizers