Peking: The Beijing Forum 2020 opened at Peking University on December 5, with bilingual live broadcasts across multiple platforms. This year, the international academic event, co-organized by Peking University, Beijing Municipal Education Commission, and Chey Institute for Advanced Studies, focused on post-pandemic global development with the theme of “The Harmony of Civilizations and Prosperity for All — Globalization under the Impact of the Pandemic: New Challenges and Opportunities”. Eminent thinkers from China and abroad were invited to offer insights and discuss global issues in light of the pandemic.
The opening ceremony was presided over by Qiu Shuiping, chairman of Peking University Council. Seven speakers made addresses either online or in person, and they included Han Qide, vice chairman of the 10th and 11th Standing Committee of NPC, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, Peking University President Hao Ping, Vice Secretary-General of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee Zheng Dengwen, Chairman of the SK Group Chey Tae-won, Founder of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab, and Former Prime Minister of Japan Fukuda Yasuo. In addition, Qiu Yuanping, standing committee member of CPPCC, gave a special address which was chaired by Qian Chengdan, director of PKU Institute of Area Studies.
Qiu Shuiping expressed sincere greetings to the distinguished guests and audience and emphasized the responsibilities higher education institutions had to shoulder. Qiu said, “The disruption and uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic have also pervaded the higher education system. The universities must embrace world citizenship and think globally, in a time of crisis in particular, to build an open and inclusive international academic community.”
Han Qide elaborated on the values that are essential to advance mutual understanding, common prosperity and future progress. In particular, Han highlighted the need to cultivate the profound friendship of the younger generation. “The future belongs to young people. We must take a long-term perspective to promote the growth of young people. We must promote young people from all over the world to overcome the obstacles of time and space, communicate sincerely, and form a consensus on peace, development, equality, and shared benefits. We must pursue and realize the grand vision of cooperative development and common progress for mankind,” Han stressed.
António Guterres extended his best wishes for a fruitful forum and recognized China’s progress towards Sustainable Development Goals. Guterres also called for the world to learn the lessons from the public health crisis and stressed the importance of international cooperation. “We are advocating a massive rescue package for the world’s most vulnerable people and countries, and for a people’s vaccine available to everyone, everywhere … The decisions we make in the coming months will shape the lives of generations to come. International cooperation will be essential,” Guterres said.
Hao Ping shared his thoughts on the key missions higher education institutions should uphold in order to drive social progress in face of the pandemic. Specifically, Hao noted that universities must seek development in view of future and reform the education model. “From a long-term perspective, the impact of the pandemic on universities is not only ‘transient’, but it will reshape the mission, responsibilities, pattern and model of higher education and internalize them into the ‘new genes’ of universities,” Hao added.
Chey Tae-won believes that one of the biggest challenges that we face today is our environment, which has been permanently altered by destructive human behaviors. In this regard, he said that the current pandemic seems to be the “karma” or unfortunate outcome of human activities. To deal with this problem, he shared three key factors that he believes can change human behavior: corporate strategy, regulatory system, and human heart.
Klaus Schwab shared his thoughts on the theme of the Beijing Forum 2020, and he believes that truth and trust are the most important building stones in the process of seeking harmony. “I’m very impressed by the Confucian notion of Hexie. I think we have to find again, an equilibrium in our world. We have to go away from the polarization, which we see now everywhere … We have now a window of opportunity to create this Global Reset which we all need,” Schwab added.
In her special address, Qiu Yuanping focused on globalization and its implications for China and the rest of the world, pointing out the periodic features and evolutionary orientations of the globalization era from the perspectives of economy, society, politics, security, institutions, and culture. According to Qiu, in the new era, China will view itself and the world from a global perspective, work with different countries to create opportunities through opening up, resolve difficulties in development, jointly meet challenges, and promote the progress and development of the times.
Moreover, Park In-kook, president of Chey Institute for Advanced Studies, chaired a keynote speech session online in which five leading figures from academic and medical communities shared insights on the global outlook. The guest speakers included Joseph Stiglitz, professor at Columbia University, Stephen Toope, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Jerome H. Kim, director general of International Vaccine Institute, and Huang Ru, vice president of Peking University.
Joseph Stiglitz, who is also the winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001, made a keynote speech advocating global cooperation in times of multiple crises. “We need global cooperation to solve crises and the multiple other challenges, but, over the last few years, we’ve also had a crisis in global cooperation. The election of Joe Biden, I believe, is a turning point … We need to reconstruct the post-pandemic economy in a way that is greener, more equal, more resilient, and more knowledge based,” Stiglitz said.
After raising a series of thought-provoking questions on the challenges faced by universities in pre-COVID times that continue to persist till today, Stephen Toope examined the role of universities. Moreover, Toope believes that no man is an island，and what is true about people is also true about global universities. In this regard, academic institutions should find ways to continue to work together. “In tackling some of the big issues – from COVID to the climate crisis – we need the diversity of backgrounds, of views and of expertise that can only come from equitable, open partnerships. This, after all, is how knowledge is produced these days,” Toope said.
Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, reviewed the timeline of China’s coronavirus outbreak and detailed what China has done to fight against the pandemic. He said the “four earlies”, namely early detection, early reporting, early isolation, and early treatment, are important strategies in responding to acute infectious diseases. Wu hopes that Chinese control and preventative strategies will be of use to the international community. He further pointed out that, “Although China has successfully contained the virus, to be honest, we cannot have a turnaround until the global pandemic is under control.”
Jerome H. Kim made a speech focusing on the global production of COVID-19 vaccines. Acknowledging the efficacy of vaccines produced by companies around the globe, he stressed that vaccine research, development and manufacturing will be a global affair. Pointing out that COVID-19 has changed the way we look at the world and each other, he urged everyone to have faith in globalized efforts. He also emphasized that worldwide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in the future will benefit global public health.
Jerome H. Kim
Huang Ru’s speech was entitled “Multi-Field Cooperation in the Building of a Big Science and Technology Ecosystem.” According to Huang, the so-called big science and technology ecosystem refers to the integration of technology, humanities, and social sciences. She highlighted that multi-field cooperation is undoubtedly the key to building a large science and technology ecosystem. “The development of science and technology has reached a new stage today. Whether it is technical challenges themselves, technical risks, or solving common problems faced by mankind, international cooperation, interdisciplinary cooperation, and cross-field cooperation are more important and necessary than ever before,” Huang added.
In addition to the main forum, the Beijing Forum 2020 is comprised of eight sub-forums known as the Beijing Forum Webinar Series. The sub-forums dive deeper into a broad range of topics including the Chinese history studies in digital context, healthy China and health communication, international public policies in a turbulent world and more.
Beijing Forum Webinar Series
This year, guest speakers and distinguished scholars from China and abroad raised thought-provoking questions and offered insightful views on a range of issues like the great reset of globalization. Held annually since 2004, the Beijing Forum, with the overarching theme of “The Harmony of Civilizations and Prosperity for All”, has gathered a wealth of invaluable suggestions and insights that have helped generate outstanding academic advancement in the Asia Pacific region and around the world, witnessing more than 6500 renowned dignitaries and scholars from over 80 countries and regions in participation thus far.