Participants from home and abroad shared and discussed how the thoughts of ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius (372-289 BC) could help facilitate civilization exchanges and mutual learning between the East and West at an oriental civilization dialogue on Sunday in Beijing.
Mencius is considered the greatest after Confucius for his skill in interpreting the Confucian concepts, his zeal in spreading them and his formulation of the philosophy. Living during the chaotic Warring States Period (475-221 BC), during which seven states fought each other for supremacy, Mencius turned his attention to the hope of benefiting the rulers of the separate states by enlightening them through philosophy. Mencius believed in the inherent goodness of human beings and advocated for moral, benevolent governance.
The event featured keynote speakers from politics, business, economy and academia, including Guy Verhofstadt, a former prime minister of Belgium and Li Xiaohua, chairman of the board of directors of Hong Kong Huada Investment Group.
Verhofstadt said in his speech that the world today is difficult and brutal in which not peace but violence is predominant. The war in Ukraine and the ongoing war in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas remind us that dialogues between civilizations are urgently needed to restore peace.
The former Belgian prime minister also said that Europe had been dominated by violence and competition for centuries until the European Economic Community was formed in 1958, which is in line with Mencius' argument that good timing is not as good as being advantageously situated, and being advantageously situated is not as good as having harmonious people.
Li Xiaohua mentioned in his speech that the principles of integrity and attaining wealth in Mencius's theory have profoundly impacted his management style. Seeking legitimate profits is one of the ways to practice virtue in social interactions, said the entrepreneur.
The Mencius Foundation and the Speaker Bureau co-hosted the event.
The "oriental civilization" dialogues would be staged monthly, with 12 events of different themes planned for 2024, according to Meng Liang, the foundation's chair.
Meng said he hopes to build a small platform for civilization exchanges between the East and the West, engage more people with insights, and contribute to the development of humankind.