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Closing of the Academic Seminar on “The Age of Exploration and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road”

Date:07/19/2019

Source: www.huanqiu.com

        The two-day Cross-Strait Academic Seminar on “The ‘Age of Exploration’ and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road”, which was a part of the 11th Straits Forum, has come to a successful close today.  Mr. Lin Wensheng, member of the Standing Committee of CPC Xiamen Municipal Committee as well as Secretary of the CPC Committee of Haicang District and Secretary of the Labor Union of Haicang Taiwanese Investment Zone, Gao Xiang, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Dean of the Chinese Academy of History, and Mr. Lai Jinyi, Chief Director of Gujin Book Collection and the former Chairman of Chinese Zheng He Society, all delivered opening speeches.  Professor Li Xinfeng, Director of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies (IWAAS), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) as well as Executive Vice-President of the China-Africa Institute, hosted the opening ceremony. More than 100 experts and scholars from universities and academic institutions across the Taiwan Straits and other countries and regions, including Singapore, Malaysia, Brazil, the United States and Hong Kong, attended the ceremony.

Professor Li Xinfeng, Director of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies (IWAAS), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) as well as Executive Vice-President of the China-Africa Institute, hosted the opening ceremony.

  Lin Wensheng first expressed warm welcome to the experts and scholars attending the meeting in his speech. He noted that bounded on three sides by the sea, Haicang District had been an important node of the ancient Maritime Silk Road, with its prominent location on the golden triangle of Minnan and the south bank of Jiulong River estuary. The seaway has always been a connection of the East and West for thousands of years. It not only promoted trades and business which helped realize mutual cooperation, but also contributed to cross-cultural communications, leading to humanistic integration. Thanks to its unique geographical advantage, Haicang became a vital part of the largest international trade port in China, Yue-gang Port, in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. Plenty of pioneers of ocean exploration such as Wang Siqi, who was saluted as the “Pathfinder of Taiwan” and Zhou Qiyuan, “Son of Ocean”, all came from Haicang; besides, the first map of China made by Europeans, the “Map of Ancient and Modern Topographical Landscapes”, was also printed there. All those above had witnessed Haicang’s key historical role in the Maritime Silk Road.

  Lin Wensheng pointed out that the building of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in the new era has given new meaning to the ancient seaway, which will in turn open up new space for world economic growth and provide an extraordinary historical opportunity for the development of Haicang District. Activating to join in the process, Haicang is taking efforts to promote transportation construction in the Central European and Central Asia which will connect both sides along Taiwan Strait, reach out to regions including Japan and Korea, ASEAN and Europe, and that help achieve seamlessly integration between The Silk Roads on Land and in Sea, which will finally become an important channel for the Belt and Road Initiative (the BRI) interconnection network.

  Mr. Lin also sincerely hoped that all the scholars and experts could air and exchange their views freely to come up with brilliant ideas and practical advices so as to prompt the construction of the Marine Silk Road in the 21st Century and for Haicang District to better join in the Belt and Road Initiative interconnection network. He claimed that we could take advantage of abundant inherits of history, actively respond to the requirements of the times and promote all-round opening and cooperation; we could also put emphasis on Connectivity, intensify functions of the port while sparing no efforts to build it into the Shipping Center of Southeast Asia, encourage the development of sea-rail intermodal transport and facilitate Customs clearance process; we could upgrade the level of industrial cooperation, highlighting its marine characteristics, promoting high-end developing, clustering and internationalizing of industries and optimize the distribution of industrial cooperation; we could further exert the advantage of cooperation with Taiwan and try our best to build up the nicest homestead for  compatriots and enterprises from Taiwan, making positive contributions to the construction of the Marine Silk Road in the 21st century.

  Gao Xiang introduced about Yue-gang Port in his speech. It had once risen to be China’s largest international trade port. With the approval of Emperor Longqing of the Ming Dynasty in 1567, Yue-gang became the only legitimate non-governmental overseas trading port in the country. It had opened 18 routes and enjoyed business contacts with 47 countries, which represented a brilliant period in the history of the development of the Maritime Silk Road and had a great impact on the process of civilization in China and even over the world. In the era of Yue-gang Port began the Age of Navigation which remarked the start of globalization: from 1405 to 1433, Zheng He’s seven voyages set off a prelude to the Great Navigation; in 1492, Columbus discovered the New World; in 1522, Magellan completed his voyage around the world, accelerating the process of globalization.

  Mr. Gao stated that constructing the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road was a strategic choice for China to keep holding on to the banner of peace, development, cooperation and win-win under the new situations, and to firmly commit itself to maintaining world peace and promoting common development. It would not only help China and countries along the Marine Silk Road to carry out all-round cooperation on transportation and shipping, marine energy, economy and trading, ecological environment and cultural exchanging, but also strengthen international communication upon policies, routes, trades, currency and popular sentiments. It would meanwhile create opportunities to thrive regional prosperity and development. Therefore, there was a solid basis for in-depth cooperation across the Taiwan Strait.

  Reviewing the past and looking forward to the future, Gao Xiang emphasized that both sides of the Strait should deepen the integration, promote all-round connectivity, build a common market, seize the great opportunity of the construction of the Maritime Silk Road in the 21st century, share development achievements and achieve common prosperity, with the foundation of adhering to the 1992 Consensus and opposing to split Taiwan from China.

  At the end of his speech, Gao Xiang stated that the CASS is the highest research institution in the humanities and Social Sciences in China. It had three major orientations: the solid front of Marxism, the highest hall of philosophy and social sciences and the national high-end think tank. CASS was willing to give full play to its academic and talent advantages, supporting cross-strait academic cooperation and development and working on the peaceful development for both sides. Cross-strait relations in the new era required more in-depth exchanges and understanding. Gao hoped this seminar would be a successful and vivid example of cross-strait cooperation. In the future, we could continue to use that platform to promote academic exchanges and cooperation between scholars on both sides of the strait, and that enhance common sense of national identity and culture identity, so as to strengthen inner consensus.

  The seminar was directed by the CASS and the Exchange Bureau of Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) of the State Council, and it was co-hosted by the IWAAS of CASS, the Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Research Center of CASS, and the Management Committee of Haicang Taiwanese Investment Zone of Xiamen. The sponsoring unit was the Cross-Strait Exchange Base (Shi’shi Academy of Xiamen), while the co-sponsors include China-African Research Institute, Taiwan Chinese Zheng He Society, the New Chinese Culture Development Association of Taiwan and Jiangdong Academy of Nanjing.

  The seminar consisted of five main topics: Cross-strait Relations in the Age of Navigation, Locations during Zheng He’s Voyages to the Western Ocean and the BRI / Inspirations to the Construction of 21st Century Maritime Silk Road from Zheng He and Models alike, Zheng He’s Voyages and the Building of a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind, the Age of Navigation and Culture of Yue-gang Port.

  Professor Li Xinfeng presided over the keynote speech of the seminar. Professor Zheng Yijun, research follow at the Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Mr. Yang Du, Chairman of New Chinese Culture Development Association, Mr. Zheng Zihai, Deputy Secretary-General of Zheng He Study Society of Jiangsu Province and Secretary-General of Zheng He Study Society of Nanjing, Mr. Hu Jinyu, Brand Director of Huaxiangyuan, Professor Lin Jianfu, from the Department of Economics at Taiwan University, Mr. Li Zhaoliang, President of the American Zheng He Study Society successively delivered themed speech: “Inspirations of Zheng He’s Voyages to the Western Ocean to the Construction of 21st Century Maritime Silk Road”, “Yan Siqi and the Age of Navigation ---1624”, “the Spreading of Tea Culture along with the BRI”, “Advocate the BRI and Promote the Development of World Economy with Zheng He Spirits”, “Global Navigation in the Ming Dynasty: Evidence and Modern Significance (the Maritime Silk Road and America in the Ming Dynasty)”. Fostu Guimarges, a scholar from Brazil and the Dean of the Santa Catarina Research Institute in Brazil, gave a special report entitled “Hypothesis on Zheng He’s Voyage to Brazil” at the seminar.

  Professor Tang Shaocheng from National Chengchi University in Taiwan (NCCU), former Chairman of Zheng He Society of China, Ms. Tan Xiuying Chief Editor of Journal of International Security Studies, Mr. Cai Yi, Executive Director at the Research Center of Integration of East Asia, Dr. Liu Naiya, scholar from the IWAAS, Li Xunmin, Consultant of Taiwan Institute of Economics, Dr. Liu Chuanhua, scholar from the IWAAS, respectively presided on related sub-topics over the seminar.

  At the closing ceremony of the seminar, Mr. Cao Fang, Deputy Director of Management Committee of Haicang Taiwanese Investment Zone of Xiamen and Deputy Secretary of CPC Haicang District Committee, delivered a closing speech. Mr. Lai Jinyi, Chief Director of Gujin Book Collection and the former Chairman of Chinese Zheng He Society, and Professor Shi Ping, Head of the Institute of Marine Culture at Shanghai Maritime University, both made conclusions on behalf of experts and scholars at the conference. Mr. Li Zhaoliang offered copies of the “Great Universal Geographic map (Knuyu Wanguo Quantu)” and his works as presents to experts and scholars from both sides of Taiwan Strait. Mr. Lai Jinyi also sent gifts to the organizers of the seminar. Professor Li Xinfeng hosted the whole closing ceremony.

  At the Age of Navigation nowadays, the background of the seminar was that building the 21st century Maritime Silk Road together could help countries and regions along the Silk Road to seize new chances for development and expand new space for cooperation, which was in line with the common interests and needs, as the ocean was a natural link of economic, trading and cultural exchanges among them. With the seminar themed “The Age of Exploration and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road”, Experts and scholars on both sides of the Strait conducted heated discussions on the relationship between the Maritime Era and Taiwan Straits, Zheng He’s voyages to the West, and the BRI era. It would help further confirm Zheng He’s achievements in the era of Great Navigation and reinforce the connections in historical inheritance and common opinions on both sides of the Strait, which would arouse a sense of historical commonality and realistic responsibility and then greatly push forward joint efforts on the building of the BRI.

Copyright: China-Africa Institute