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Beijing Forum 2009: Nov 7 Panel Session on History

Yingjie Exchange Center, Peking University, Nov. 7th, 2009: At 2 p.m. on Nov. 7th, the History panel session of Beijing forum 2009 started discussions with the theme of “Nation-building, National Security and World Order in Historical Crises.” Focusing on this theme, eight scholars from different countries and areas gave inspiring presentations with heated discussions in four hours.

 

After chair Richard Whiting opened the session with a brief introduction, Professor Antonnia M. Finnane from Melbourne Unversity gave a presentation of “Letters from a Crisis Zone: Jesuit Correspondence from Haimen and Chongming in the Late Qing Era.” Professor Finnane emphasized the importance of the Jesuit letters from nineteenth-century China as historical sources that can help us know much about the history at that time; for example, northern Jiangsu Province suffered catastrophic effects from the Opium Wars. Professor Finnane concluded that the “eyewitness accounts by missionaries in the region provide an unusual first-hand account of a society in crisis.”

 

Then Professor Wang Lixin from Department of History of Peking University gave a speech with the title of “Christianizing of International Relations: Reflections on the Great War and the Rise of Internationalism in American Missionary Groups.” His presentation focused on two aspects: one is the reflection of roles on the courses to prevent war at that time and the other is about the solution. Professor Wang first described the wrong conception about this issue held by people and then he pointed out the situation of Christianizing international relations and some countries filled their own nations with the spirit of Christ.

 

Next, Mr. Hsieh Kuo-hsing talked about Taiwan Strait Crisis by giving the presentation of “The Knot of Nationalism and the Taiwan Strait Cirsis”. He argued that the ties of economic interests and cultural communication are the two main directions of the relation between mainland China and Taiwan. Besides, he claimed that mainland China plays the most important role in the relation.

 

In the following, Professor John Chuan Tiong Lim gave a vivid presentation of “Crisis Overcome? Ma Ying-jeou’s Strategy on the Cross-strait Relations.” He pointed out that the Taiwan Strait Crisis has three meanings including temporary crisis, potential crisis and identification crisis. Moreover, he also claimed that the basic strategy of Ma Ying-jeou on the cross-strait relations is facing reality by first promote economy exchange following political interaction.

 

After that, Professor Niu Ke from Department of History of Peking University made comments on the former four scholars’ speeches. Following an interaction session with students and professors in the room, the first part of the panel ended at around 4 p.m.

 

After the coffee break, chair Andreas Etges from Columbia University started the second part of the panel. Anders Stephanson first gave a speech with the topic of “The Obama Non-doctrine: A Pragmatic Break with U.S. Exceptionalism.” He claimed that Obama’s policy does not follow the doctrine of former presidents with a large number of examples.

 

Two European scholars then made their presentations focusing on the panel’s theme with their own countries’ context. First, Italian Scholar Enrico Fardella from University of Florence gave a presentation about The Crisis of Democracy within the context of Italy from 1948 to 2009. Then, Iolanda Tighiliu from Romania gave a presentation of “Central Europe in the Second Half of the 19th Century: Comparative Study, the Case of Romania,” in which she briefly traced the historical and social changes in Romania in the second half of the 19th century. Besides, she also talked about the changes for Romania brought by joining EU recently.

 

Next, Professor Zan Tao from Department of History in Peking University gave a speech with the topic “Crises of Democracy and Military Coups in Turkey, 1960-2008.” In his presentation, he stated that the military strength in the 1960s had made some contribution for the modernization of Turkey, which is often neglected by scholars.

 

Eventually, Sunil Khilnani brought about a few questions for the four scholars and made comments on the second part of the session. In spite of the time limit, all the scholars gave solid answers to the questions. At around 6 o’clock, the whole panel session concluded in a joyful atmosphere.

 


Edit by: Cai Ying, Seren