Tianxia | The 2022 Yenching Global Symposium Is Rounded Off

The 2022 Yenching Global Symposium (YGS) was held online and on the Peking University campus between April 8 and 10. A lineup of 178 YGS delegates from 60 countries and regions sat in the three-day Symposium, discussing issues about globalization together with Yenching Scholars and alumni. The 2022 YGS featured over 40 prominent Chinese and international speakers across various fields, including scholars, leading professionals, and entrepreneurs, who presented thought-provoking ideas to the participants.

Prof. Dong Qiang, Dean of Yenching Academy, delivered a welcome remark at the opening ceremony, setting the tone for the event that “we should strive for a more globalized world—more open, inclusive, and beneficial for all, with enduring peace and unity.”

Day One Looking Inwards: Turning Against Globalization

Panelists assessed the many challenges imposed by globalization from the perspectives of history, technology, and international economy and trade. In the Technology and Data Protection Rules Across Nations panel, the panelists shed light on how data protection and technology governance will affect nations today. One 2022 YGS delegate, Glenn Wijaya, commented on the session, saying, “I was really inspired by the panel. I hope that in the future, countries will see the value of sitting down together and having discussions about ubiquitous rules on data protection regulations.”

The International Politics and Trade in Flux panel was moderated by John Holden, Managing Director & Head of Global Advisory, McLarty Associates and former Associate Dean of Yenching Academy. Holden has paid close attention to YGS through the years.

Day Two Looking Outwards: Links Across Borders

The Day Two conference focused on the common issues across borders like writing, entrepreneurship, education, and philosophy. Peter Hessler, award-winning author and staff writer at the New Yorker, remarked that all literature had the universal power of delivering messages that transcend boundaries like genres and are enriched by their cultural contexts.

Zak Dychtwald, founder and CEO of Young China Group, noted enormous opportunities in the challenge and innovation, adding that “It is not just innovations for China but also innovations from China.”

Furthermore, Roger T. Ames, Humanities Chair Professor at Peking University, highlighted the concept of “infinite games,” emphasizing the win-win relationship built between individuals in society. Prof. Ames found the model the most effective way to deal with the world. Bryan W. Van Norden, James Monroe Taylor Chair in Philosophy at Vassar College (USA), outlined that the origins of Confucius overlapped with Plato’s as they were both born in a time of civil war and chaos.

Day Three Looking Forward: International Institutions in the Shadow of COVID-19

The final day of YGS 2022 focused on the current international order and laid out the roadmap for the future of globalization. Professor Charles Kupchan from Georgetown University and Professor Wang Dong from the PKU School of International Studies delved into the current international tensions. Prof. Kupchan encouraged delegates to keep studying and engaging issues about international relations. “The smarter, the more engaged, and the wiser we are, the more likely that we will be able to generate outcomes that serve to the benefit of all,” he noted. Prof. Wang cited Charles Dickens, “this is the worst times, this is the best times,” and offered a piece of advice, “always bring reason and optimism together; this is how we carry on.”

Professor Gordon Liu from Peking University stressed the importance of the WHO in the COVID-19 pandemic. He proposed that WHO advocate and distribute sound information on COVID-19 to improve the cost-effectiveness of many countries’ strategies.

During the panel discussion on green development and carbon neutrality, Prof. Zhang Shiqiu from Peking University observed that China has been more active than before, promoting international governance and global collaboration through the launch of the Green BRI.

The YGS delegates had fruitful discussions during the three-day Symposium. Several delegates to the past symposiums shared their experiences. They learned from one another and were inspired; some noted they had long missed thorough and inspiring exchanges like those offered at the YGS 2022. The remarkable performance of music, dance, and taiji impressed the audience of this year’s YGS, facilitating the function of intercultural communication.

At the closing ceremony, Ms. Ronna Chao, Chief Executive Officer of Bai Xian Education Foundation and Bai Xian Asia Institute, encouraged the participating young scholars and delegates to embrace the differences in these uncertain times and apply what they had learned. She called for better communication, inspiration, and mutual respect and understanding.

YCA Associate Dean Fan Shiming extended congratulations on the successful planning and execution of the 2022 YGS, highlighting the YGS’s vital role as a platform for emerging leaders. Prof. Fan asked young scholars and delegates to think and rethink globalization and build a better world that is open, inclusive, and supportive.

More deliberations and discussions are on a globalized or deglobalized future. Whatever it will be, we need all hands on deck to overcome challenges imposed on humankind. By looking inwards, outwards, and forward, the 2022 YGS traced the history of globalization and laid out a roadmap for the future. We must draw strength in challenges.

Dean Dong Qiang described this year’s version of the YGS as depicting a state where the past joined the present, and the East met the West. At the 2022 YGS, we had insights and ideas from established professionals, prominent scholars, and emerging talents from all over the world. We believe that our young delegates and scholars will contribute more to global collaboration and consensus, inspired by this year’s meaningful Symposium.

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