The 8th “Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum” (short for Pan- Beibu Gulf Forum) is going to be held on May 15th, 2014. This year’s forum will be organized in the form of symposiums rather than sub-forums that are applied in the previous sessions. Culture and economy are two inseparable wings key to the development of a region. The 8th Pan- Beibu Gulf Forum will for the first time include “Cooperation and Innovation of Pan-Beibu Gulf Cultural Transmission” into the scope of the symposiums, hereinafter referred to as “Pan-Beibu Gulf Cultural Symposium”.
Cultural exchange is an important content of the communication between nations. It sets up a bridge for spiritual communication of different peoples. Traditional festival itself is an important medium for cultural inheritance. Traditional rites, ceremonies and customs are all carriers of shared beliefs of different nations. The Songkran Festival (Water-Sprinkling Festival) of Southeast Asia which falls in April is celebrated in the Southeast Asian countries by the local people as well as Chinese tourists visiting there. This festival is also celebrated in China by the Chinese people as well as students and tourists from Southeast Asia. Alex, a Myanmar student who studies clinical medicine at the Institute of International Education, Guangxi Medical University, told the China-ASEAN Panorama, “This is the third time I celebrate the Songkran Festival in China, which is a very important festival in Myanmar. I feel quite respected to celebrate this festival with so many Chinese teachers and schoolmates”. Besides, the Myanmar Consulate also held performances to celebrate the festival and invited the Myanmar students to join in. As traditional festivals of different nations are celebrated both locally and abroad, they are inherited and innovated at the same time.
Cultural exchange and transmission are reflected in language exchanges, traditional festivals, and navigation and trade cultures as well. The Maritime Silk Road is a cultural artery connecting Asia, Europe and Africa, and a bridge for the exchange of material and spiritual civilization between the East and West. Ever since the Qin and Han dynasties in Chinese history, merchants from the central plains and coastal areas of China shipped ceramics, cloth and silk to Sri Lanka and India, and transshipped them to Egypt and Rome, while merchants from Southeast Asia and Europe brought with them woolens and glassware. For thousands of years, the commercial relations among countries along the Maritime Silk Road have maintained their cultural dissemination and inheritance and continued to today. Hepu (Guangxi) is China’s departure port of the Maritime Silk Road in Han Dynasty. Later, in the following dynasties, famous ancient ports like Guangzhou, Quanzhou and Ningbo rose as Hepu’s successors during the course of exploring the Maritime Silk Road. According to the Geographical Records in the History of the Han Dynasty, departing from Hepu, China has started its business with Southeast Asian countries since Han Dynasty, which is regarded as the earliest record of the Maritime Silk Road. Hence, it must be the top priority in the Pan-Beibu Gulf Cultural Symposium that how to boost the dissemination and innovation of Pan-Beibu Gulf culture in the process of building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
It is reported that the Pan-Beibu Gulf Cultural Symposium will come in the form of guest interviews. So far, the guests from China, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, France and many other countries have confirmed their attendance, who are mainly producers and investors of films and televised documentaries. More advanced technology and people’s higher educational level will better facilitate the cultural diffusion. Taking television as the carrier, movies and television dramas have many advantages such as broad coverage area, a wide range of audiences, fast dissemination speed and vivid and visualized content. Nevertheless, under the context of the coexistence of various art forms and new media, discussions on how can we make televised documentary attract more audiences' attention and how to disseminate culture and improve the communication effects on the present basis are also expected to be conducted in this symposium.
In order to encourage frugality and comply with China’s Central government's eight-point code to cut bureaucracy and the stipulations of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the 8th Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum is planned to shorten the time from one and a half days to one day. Such a period would not be enough to reach sufficient consensuses. However, as an important platform for regional exchanges and communication, a new round of fireworks will be sparked by the collision of ideas from participants, including government officials, experts, scholars and business elites.