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The Second Conference on Global Ethic and Traditional Chinese Ethic, Beijing(10-14 Oct 2001)

The Second Conference on

Global Ethics and Traditional Chinese Ethics
Beijing Conference , 10-14 October, 2001



Handbook

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Brief Report

 
    The conference was jointly organized by the Global Foundation, Institute of Sino-Christian Studies and People's University of China, Beijing. It took place in Beijing on October 10-14, 2001. On the basis of the recommendation by the Conference Committee, total 27 participants were invited to attend this conference. Most of those participants were the well-known scholars in Hong Kong, China and overseas.

    The Chairman of the Global Ethic Foundation, Prof Hans Küng also attended the conference and dialogued directly with the participants with regard to the global ethics issues. The following sub-topics were thoroughly discussed in the conference:

  1. Two Basic Principles of Global Ethics;

  2. Non-violence and Respect For Life;

  3. Justice and Solidarity;

  4. Truthfulness and Tolerance;

  5. Mutual Respect and Partnership.

    After the conference, the representatives also signed up a Statement. The conference was gained great importance from the People's University of China. During the conference, the President of the People's University of China, Mr Ji Baocheng met with Prof Kung and some of the participants, and their Vice-President, Professor Feng Jin partook in the conference.

    In addition, the conference aroused the attention of television and newspaper medias. For instance, Central Television and Beijing Television covered the conference in their news programs. The major academic newspaper such as Guangming Daily News, Chinese Education News, Chinese Youth News and the most important communication organization, Xinhua News Agency also covered the conference.



Summary

 
Background
    A conference was held at the Dayuan Hotel in Beijing on October 10-14, 2001 to deliberate upon the Declaration toward a Global Ethic adopted by the Parliament of the World's Religions in 1993. The conference was attended by the representatives of the Global Ethic Foundation and scholars in the fields of philosophy, ethic, religion and law from Renmin University of China, Peking University, Tsinghua University, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Fudan University, Wuhan University, Shanxi Normal University, Hainan University, University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University and the Hong Kong Institute of Sino-Christian Studies.

    The Conference noted that Chinese scholars began their participation in the discussion of global ethic since the first academic conference on Global Ethic and Traditional Chinese Ethic held at the Da Jue Temple in Beijing in September 1997. Another conference on the topic was held in Beijing in June 1998 under the auspices of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco). The study of global ethic has received wide attention within Chinese academic circles. Articles on the topic have appeared in journals and magazines such as Du Shu, Cross-Cultural Dialogue, and the Journal for the Study of Christian Culture. Chinese scholars have also published books on global ethic and translated into Chinese major documents and books such as the Declaration toward a Global Ethic, The Concept of a Global Ethic, A Global Ethic for Global Politics and Economic, and Globalization and Moral Reconstruction. The importance and urgency of the search for a global ethic have been fully recognized by Chinese intellectuals.

    Chinese scholars feel deeply that many problems facing humanity are closely related to global ethic, particularly in view of China's further integration into international society, various issues in the world in the new millennium, the escalation of violent conflicts and terrorism, and the polarization resulting from economic globalization. On the basis of the discussion in the last few years, participants at this Conference deliberated upon the Declaration toward a Global Ethic as follows.

Main points 
    Adopting the principle of "seeking common grounds while recognizing differences", participants at the Conference discussed the following issues:

  1. The two fundamental principles of humanity: every human being must be treated humanely; what you do not wish done to yourself, do not do to others

  2. The four irrevocable directives:
    1. Commitment to a culture of non-violence and respect for life
    2. Commitment to a culture of solidarity and a just economic order
    3. Commitment to a culture of tolerance and a life of truthfulness
    4. Commitment to a culture of equal rights and partnership between men and women

    In the Confucian spirit of "harmony in diversity", we believe that the harmonious co-existence of different cultures is the foundation of modern human existence and development. Confucian ideas such as " 'benevolence' means loving your fellow men", " 'benevolence' means man", "a benevolent man helps others to take their stand in that he himself wishes to take his stand, and gets others there in that he himself wishes to get there", and "do to others what you wish others do to you" make a positive contribution towards the fundamental principles of humanity. "Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire" expresses the basic principle of respect for others. 

    According to traditional Chinese thought, "using violence against violence" is not the right way; "the virtue of respect for life" is the great virtue. Both Confucianism and Taoism oppose violence and preach "stop killing" and "treasure life". As the ancient saying goes, "the people are my brothers; all creation is part of me". Buddhism advocates not only respect for human life but also respect for all forms of life. These ideas contribute to internal peace among humankind as well as harmony between humankind and Nature. 

    The Confucian precepts that "government is the representative of justice" and "righteousness means appropriateness" reflect the search for social justice. Confucianism emphasizes that the foundation of social justice lies in the human being's moral and spiritual self-cultivation, advocates "self-rectification" and upholds "the priority of righteousness". These teachings contribute to the establishment of a just social order. The Confucian view that "no man is devoid of a heart sensitive to the suffering of others" is a classic articulation of the spirit of human sympathy. The saying "all human beings within the four seas are brothers and sisters" demonstrates the ideal of human solidarity.

    The Confucian ideas that "honesty-sincerity is the Dao of Heaven" and "to be honest and sincere is the Dao of human beings" provide a transcendent basis for honesty and sincerity as between human beings. Chinese traditional thought advocates "consideration for others", and suggests that "great virtues have a huge capacity to contain things" and "to tolerate is a sign of greatness". These ideas contribute to the spirit of tolerance that a modern society needs.

    Traditional Chinese ethic recognize the importance of the family and view the family as the foundation of society. Among the "five cardinal relationships", three relate to the family. As the ancient saying goes, "The way of the superior man may be found, in its simple elements, in the intercourse of common men and women; but in its utmost reaches, it shines brightly through heaven and earth." "Filial piety and brotherliness" are considered to be the origin of human moral sentiments and benevolence. Confucianism advocates "love for one's family members, then benevolence for all people, then love for all things", "cultivate the person, then regulate the family, then order well the state, then bring peace to the whole world", so as to bring about the realm in which people "honour the elderly of others as we honour our elderly, and take care of the young of others as we take care of our young". This spirit is totally consistent with that of global ethic.

(Note: Where the translations above are from the Analects or Mencius, they are D.C. Lau's translations.)

Our hope
     This Conference has promoted the discussion of the relationship between global ethic and traditional Chinese ethical resources. We recommend the compilation of traditional Chinese ethical texts that are relevant to the construction of global ethic, and the organization of Chinese scholars and experts to engage in systematic research and interpretation of the "two fundamental principles" and "four irrevocable directives" of the Declaration toward a Global Ethic

    We firmly believe that the ideas of global ethic will receive increasing attention in China.

    We hope a declaration on global ethic and human responsibilities will be discussed and adopted by the United Nations, and that such a declaration will play a role as important as that of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.



Signature

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Photo Gallery

 

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Back:
From left: LI Qiu-ling, DENG Xiao-mang, ZHANG Zhi-yang, ZHANG Qing-xiong, YOU Xi-lin, HE Huai-hong, Miikka RUOKANEN, YANG Hui-lin, YEUNG Hee-nam
Front:
From left: LU Feng, WAN Jun-ren, HE Guang-hu, K-J KUSCHEL, Hans KÜNG, ZHUO Xin-ping
Hans KÜNG was holding the first topical discussion
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During the Conference (1) First discussion on the Beijing Statement of the Conference
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Second discussion on the Beijing Statement of the Conference Mainland Scholars were signing the Beijing Statement
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The Beijing Statement was recognized After the Conference, Hans KÜNG took part in a series of academic activities in People's University of China and Tsinghua University in Beijing (1)
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After the Conference, Hans KÜNG took part in a series of academic activities in People's University of China and Tsinghua University in Beijing (2) After the Conference, Hans KÜNG took part in a series of academic activities in People's University of China and Tsinghua University in Beijing (3)
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After the Conference, Hans KÜNG took part in a series of academic activities in People's University of China and Tsinghua University in Beijing (4)