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Lee Yun-Hwa: Confucian values guide contemporary civilization exchange| Updated: September 25, 2023

Editor's Note: The nighth Nishan Forum on World Civilizations will be held in Qufu, a county-level city in Jining, East China's Shandong province, from Sept 26 to 28, to promote excellent traditional Chinese culture and enhance communications and mutual learning between different civilizations. Participants' expectations for this year's forum and their insights into Confucianism and traditional Chinese culture are being featured in a series of reports by China Daily.


Lee Yun-Hwa, honorary professor of Andong National University in South Korea. [Photo provided to]

Q: What significance does cultural exchange and mutual learning have in advancing the development and progress of human society?

A: Cultures that are rooted in the growth and existence of civilizations, regardless of the scope of their exchange, will blend and sometimes clash with each other. However, during the process of exchange, cultures continuously learn and make choices. Cultural exchange is a dynamic social phenomenon that induces change through the sharing and integration of new values, and it holds meaning beyond mere mutual understanding. Culture serves as a vital medium for nations to express themselves and communicate with others.

Through cultural exchange, we can acknowledge our differences, embrace and understand the value of the material and spiritual assets created by each other. The collision of cultures is a process of sharing specific life experiences. Just as when we appreciate the poetry of Li Bai (701-762), we can feel the poet's emotions. The commonality of emotions, values and ways of thinking is an important prerequisite for communication. The reason why humans can embrace each other's cultures is precisely because, after encountering a similar culture in a different form, curiosity about the culture of the other country arises.

Q: In the context of globalization, how can Confucianism address conflicts and misunderstandings between different cultures?

A: Confucius hoped that individuals would practice the value and significance of self-cultivation in their daily lives, awaken to it, and then extend the practice of personal moral values to society. This is very useful for addressing contemporary issues related to individuals and communities, as well as harmonious relationships in the digital civilization environment.

Q: What are your expectations for this year's Nishan Forum on World Civilizations?

A: This forum adheres to the premise of diverse civilizations and strives to discover the wisdom of coexistence among various cultures. This year, under the theme of "Common values for mankind and a community with a shared future for mankind - strengthening exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations to jointly address global challenges", the forum aims to broaden the understanding of cultural exchange, cooperation and mutual learning. I hope that this forum will become an opportunity for civilizations to pursue peace and cooperation.