On 22 August 2022, the UJCI hosted a seminar on ‘Learning China’s governing philosophy in the new era through Chinese Classics’, including the Book of Documents and the Analects of Confucius. The seminar was attended by about 30 UJ students, and was broadcast live on CGTN Africa.
Prof David Monyae, Co-Director of the UJCI, spoke about South Africa’s relations with China as well as China’s political philosophy.
In a lecture titled ‘Learning China’s governing idea in the new era through Chinese Classics’, Prof Li Baosheng, Co-director of the UJCI introduced traditional Chinese cultural concepts such as ‘studious’, ‘practice’, ‘People-oriented,” and “Great Harmony in the World’. According to Prof Baoshen, the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the World Development Initiative have opened a new chapter in the development of the global community.
The political vision of ‘Great Harmony in the World’ and the cultural idea of ‘Harmony in diversity’ were formulated by Chinese intellectuals more than 2 500 years ago. These ideas are strongly related to the great idea of creating a global community with a common future.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chinese government consistently prioritised the lives of its citizens. The Book of Documents contains the proverb ‘People are the root of a country — when the root is grounded, the country is secured.’ This highlights the significance of the concept of “Benevolent Governance’ and ‘Love of the People’ in traditional Chinese culture.
Confucius also remarked that a good king rules like the North Star, commanding others to follow his lead. In order to achieve shared prosperity, and create a global community with a common destiny, the diplomatic philosophy of the Chinese government in the new era adheres to the principle of ‘Love of the People’.
In traditional Chinese culture, much emphasis is placed on ‘practice’. Confucius said, ‘loving to learn is close to knowledge, and practice is close to benevolence.’ Some nations talked a lot but did very little to help other nations to fight the pandemic. However, the Chinese government made significant contributions.
Students at UJ participated actively in the ensuing conversation, and demonstrated a keen interest in the subject matter. Regine Tshiala Ndala, a third-year student in the UJ Department of Transport and Supply Chaim Management, and a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, observed that there were many similarities between African and Chinese cultures. She compared them to large families whose members look out for and assist a sibling in need.
Edmund Terem Ugar, a PhD student in the School of Humanities, spoke about the relationship between China and Africa, and asserted that African countries should pay greater attention to China’s new diplomatic and governance principles.