Conference on China Brings International Scholars to Campus

Story posted May 09, 2006

Beijing may lie 6,638 miles from Brunswick, but over the course of two weeks Chinese scholars brought the complexities of a 21st century China home to Bowdoin students, faculty, and friends.

Conference Speaker
Tianjian Shi, of Duke University.

The Bowdoin College Asian Studies Department and the Asian Students Association recently hosted six scholars from across the nation for a two-week lecture series titled, "Concurrent Worlds: China in the Era of Globalization," April 15-27, 2006.

"The lecture series covered the diverse and wide-ranging set of issues facing contemporary China," remarked Lance Guo, Bowdoin assistant professor of Government and Asian Studies. "It highlighted the complex, multi-dimensional and multi-directional changes that nation is experiencing; it clearly demonstrated how China defies simple categorization and the pitfalls of simple generalizations to which we are all prone."

Tackling a wide variety of questions related to China and its place in the new world order were:

Tianjian Shi, Duke University, who spoke on China's political culture and the Chinese conception of democracy;

Peter Yum Tak Shing, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, who presented his Fulbright lecture on Hong Kong and the neighboring Shenzhen;

Edward Steinfeld, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who addressed China's energy situation;

Guoli Liu, College of Charleston, analyzed U.S.-China relations in the era of globalization;

Jing-Dong Yuan, Institute of International studies, Monterey, an expert on China's military and the East Asian security situation;

Hong Zhang, Colby College, who presented her research on rural migration and China's booming coastal cities.

China's rapid rise over the past two decades has been reported widely in the media, noted conference participants. The image of China, however, is one of a monolithic entity. Popular views of the new China lack understanding of the complex interplay of factors fueling China's rise, as well as those threatening to hold progress back.

Yet another perspective on China was provided at the conclusion of each lecture - a sampling of delicious Chinese sweets, They were, perhaps, the most enticing illustration of the power of globalization.

By Tim Gibson '06

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