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Attendees at biennial event point out that today"s specialists in Chinese history and current affairs are younger and come from more diverse backgrounds
Overseas scholars are becoming increasingly interested in China and its culture, observers at the seventh World Forum on China Studies said.
More than 180 scholars from 34 countries and regions convened in Shanghai earlier this week for the forum which has the theme of "China in a New Era".
"They are younger, come from more diverse backgrounds, and many come from countries other than the United States and Japan which have a strong tradition in China studies," said Liang Yi, chief researcher on overseas China studies at Beijing Union University.
For example, the panel titled "China"s Peaceful Development and a New Generation of China Specialists" attracted experts and scholars from countries including Romania, Indonesia, Russia and Ukraine.
According to Yao Qinhua, director of the Institute of China Studies under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, about 70 percent of the young scholars enrolled in a program sponsored by the academy were born after 1980.
"Less than 30 percent of them major in Chinese language and literature. They come from backgrounds such as economics, political sciences and education, and their studies are closely related to contemporary China, including China"s monetary policy and Belt and Road Initiative," Yao said.
Paula Teodorescu, an assistant lecturer of Chinese literature at the University of Bucharest, Romania, said she was intrigued by the poetry written by Chinese migrant workers.
"I first read those poems in 2016 and I loved them. Reading these poems makes me feel as if I am living their lives," she said during the panel discussion.
"Next year, I am teaching my students modern Chinese literature, and I will introduce them to those poems."
In her paper Chinese Poetry as a Cultural Gene - The Esthetics of Migrant Workers" Poetry, Teodorescu explores how Chinese migrant workers in big cities write poems as a means of building social networks and interacting with others.
Teodorescu has been studying Chinese since 2003, and holds a doctoral degree in literature and cultural studies from the University of Bucharest. She has also translated Decoded, one of Chinese writer Mai Jia"s most popular novels, into Romanian in 2015.
Jona Widhagdo Putri, a researcher in International Relations at the University of Indonesia and a Chinese interpreter for Indonesian President Joko Widodo, was one of the young members of the program by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
Putri has been studying China"s 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative and has compared it with Indonesia"s Global Maritime Fulcrum.
"I found that these initiatives share many similarities and hence give us many opportunities for cooperation," she said. "Both emphasize on improving connectivity, maintaining regional stability and building maritime partnership."
During the forum, Russian scholar Yaroslav V Sokolovsky, who hails from the Institute of Economics, Management and Environmental Studies of Siberian Federal University, shared his research on the use of digital technologies in building smart cities in Russia and China.
"The older generation of Sinologists focus more on China"s history, while the new China specialists have a keen interest in studying today"s China," said Zhang Xiping, the dean of International Chinese Culture Studies Collaborative Innovation Center at Beijing Foreign Studies University.
"I advise the young scholars to find a balance between the two. All the new developments in modern China are related to the past."
Founded in 2004, the World Forum on China Studies is a Shanghai-based academic event jointly organized by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and the Information Office of the Shanghai Municipality.
Sponsored by the State Council Information Office and the Shanghai Municipal Government, the forum aims to reflect upon global challenges while fostering an informed understanding between China and the rest of the world.
The forum also provides the worldwide community on China studies a biennial platform to share their latest research achievements and strengthen their academic ties.