“The Yellow River culture is the root and soul of Chinese civilization. In China’s profound history, most of the changes from prehistoric development to various dynasties have taken the Yellow River basin as a stage. China’s agricultural origins and ideological beliefs have also taken their forms in the Yellow River basin.” At the “2023 World Great Rivers Civilizations Forum” held in Zhengzhou, Henan Province during September 16-18, Wang Wei, a member of the CAS faculty and chairman of the Society for Chinese Archaeology, explained the importance of the Yellow River culture to China.
With the topic “Mutual learning among civilizations · Jointly building a shared future”, four sub-forums were also set up under this event in addition to the main forum: “Diversity, exchange and mutual learning of great river civilizations of the world”, “Chinese civilization and the transmission as well as promotion of the culture regarding the Yellow River”, “Dialogue between Chinese civilization and world civilizations” and “Eco-protection and high-quality development of the Yellow River basin”. The purpose of the forum is to fully promote the culture of the Yellow River, strengthen exchanges and mutual learning among different world civilizations.
“Compared to the civilizations of other major countries in the world, Chinese civilization has three distinctive features: continuity, inclusivity, and diversification.” Wang Wei said that the history of Chinese civilization for more than 5,000 years has a clear context of development, an enduring civilization tradition, and outstanding continuity. At the same time, it absorbed many foreign civilizations and presented a process of absorption and renewed innovation.
“Many ancient civilizations in different regions of the world have spawned catchments of large rivers, but not all of the great river basins have cradled civilizations.” Professor Christoph Evans, Fellow of British Academy, believes that the emergence of civilization in the Yellow River basin went hand in hand with the emergence and development of agriculture, which laid the foundation for the development of agriculture to promote conditions for settlement and population growth. Liu Haiwang, director of Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology, fully agrees. He expressed that the origin of human civilization depends on the geographical environment, including the civilization of the Nile, the civilization of the Two Rivers, the Chinese civilization of the Yellow River and the Chinese civilization of the Yangtze River. “Agricultural civilization is the most fundamental feature of early Chinese civilization. “
Wang Zhongjiang, executive director of Peking University’s Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, said, “Chinese culture has been an expanding process from ancient times to modern times. The rise of studies for numerous scholars in the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period laid the foundation for the development of Chinese culture for thousands of years.”
In her speech, Herta Nagl-Docekal, professor of philosophy at the University of Vienna in Austria and a member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, pointed out that cultural exchange between East and West focuses on the “search for similarities subject to differences”. An intensive exchange is not only about discovering differences, but also about finding common ground and finding our common concerns for the modern world as a whole.” She said that although there would be some differences between East and West, the important commonality between the two sides could not be ignored.