Oxford Invites Big Chinese Names to Discuss a New China

2018-03-06 16:03:45 China Minutes

The Oxford China Forum (OCF), a student-run, annual conference returned for another two days of discussions last weekend to address China’s growing role in the global community and attempt to envision the new China of the future. The yearly event aims to foster understanding and mutual respect at a time it is needed most.

Audiences were able to listen to world-leading experts, specialising in China from fields such as art and culture, entrepreneurship, literature, rural China, philosophy and technology. The panel also included Chinese household names such as Jin Xing,China's most popular TV hostess, Xu Bing,a contemporary Chinese installation artist and one of China’s best-known creative figuresand acclaimed novelist Yan Geling.

It is not only the global community who is trying to make sense of China’s current position in the world today, but also the Chinese themselves. As the land of paradox, China is trying to harmonize traditional and modern cultural influences as well as the influx of Western trends with its native roots. Discussions were carried out in an atmosphere of openness and all speakers had the opportunity to share their own experiences and insights.

The Art & Culture panel was themed around ‘Reinvention and Revival’. Discussions touched on art education in China and the need to encourage independent thinking among students. Jin Xing added, “in our culture teachers lack confidence, students are not encouraged to excel above teachers and the teacher-student relationship usually assumes that the teacher is always right, but where does this lead?” The education system in China has provoked debate in recent years, as it is feared that too much emphasis is placed on exam results as opposed to creativity.

On the Literature panel, Nicky Harmen, a famous British translator of Chinese novels highlighted the growing interest in Chinese literature in the West. “In 2000, there were fewer than six translations of Chinese fiction into English, but in recent years we have seen an explosive growth in translations of Chinese literature.” This is the beginning of English readers developing an understanding of contemporary Chinese literature, especially science fiction works, which have received much international attention. However, Nicky also believes there is no "shortcut" to promoting Chinese fiction. For many English readers, choosing a novel from China is often a "leap of faith," so it is really hard for publishers to make money.

The event was live-streamed to audiences in China attracting a huge online following.



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