Experts: Inheriting and Innovating Jiangnan Culture to Promote the Construction of Modern Chinese Civilization

On October 19th, the 5th Yangtze River Delta Jiangnan Culture Forum and the 2nd Jiangnan Culture and New City Construction Forum were convened in Shanghai. Wang Zhan, President of the Shanghai Federation of Social Science Associations (SFSSA), Wang Weiping, Specially Appointed Distinguished Professor of Soochow University, Mei Xinlin, Chief Expert of Zhejiang Academic and Cultural Research Center at Zhejiang University of Technology, and Liu Boshan, Research Fellow of the Hui Studies and Traditional Chinese Culture Research Institute at Anhui University, delivered keynote speeches.

Wang Zhan noted that the cultural development in Jiangnan (South of the Yangtze River) can be traced back to Confucius, Dong Zhongshu, Zhu Xi, and Wang Yangming, the four grand masters of Confucianism .” During Confucius’ era, the pre-Qin culture in the east took their initial steps as the Greek civilization did in the west, laying the foundation for Jiangnan culture with the principles of “benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and trustworthiness.” Dong Zhongshu, mainly influenced by Confucianism, integrated thoughts from Legalism, Daoism, the School of Military Strategy, and Mohism, forming the “sole respect for Confucianism” and implanting unified thoughts into Jiangnan culture. In Zhu Xi’s era, the Four Books and Five Classics established the profound heritage of Jiangnan culture. Then Wang Yangming’s “Philosophy of the Mind” integrating cognition and action became prominent. The essence of Jiangnan culture has been the integration of cognition and action. In this new era, it is essential to find the intersection point of Jiangnan culture, Marxist principles, and excellent historical and cultural traditions, fully understand the connotations of the cultural origins of China and Jiangnan as a great cultural element of the country, and promote the high-quality integration development of the Yangtze River Delta.

Wang Weiping discussed how economic development complement and integrates with culture from in his speech “Suzhou Humanistic Economy in Light of the Historical Context.” He observed that Suzhou, as an exemplary humanistic economy in Chinese history, has always emphasized the combination of tradition and modernity. The city at once embraces its cultural traditions and pushes hard for innovation in high technology and high-quality development. Without the cultural empowerment and the technological innovation, Suzhou would not have achieved its pivotal economic status. Suzhou's economic and cultural symbiosis and mutual reinforcement in history is inspiration for the interactive development of the modern humanistic economy.

Mei Xinlin focused on the construction of the spiritual lineage of Jiangnan culture. In his reflections, the significance of such construction resides in national strategic needs, spatial empowerment, and international competition. It is crucial to adhere to the principle of “harmony in diversity.” We should both look back on history and look outside and learn from other cultures. Both the diachronic and synchronic dimensions of culture should be kept in sight. Mei called modern civilization the guide, urban culture the core, the modern revolutionary culture the soul, and innovation spirit the driving force in constructing stronger Jiangnan culture. For such construction, we should sharpen our creative edges and liberal minds and prepare ourselves better to learn from all civilizations in the world.

In his speech on “The Distinctive Symbols of Anhui in Yangtze River Culture and Jiangnan Culture”, Liu Boshan discussed the rich historical and modern culture of the Anhui section along the Yangtze River, and the significance of many distinctive Anhui symbols. These symbols have had much to do with the prosperity and development of Yangtze River culture. They constitute a splendid part of Yangtze River culture. Not only do they have intrinsic connections with Jiangnan culture, but they are a substantial part of the latter. They deserve to be fully explored and comprehensively treated.

RELEASE TIME2023-12-07