Professor Patrick Mendis (sixth left) receiving the International Confucius Award from the Confucius Research Institute of China in Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius in Shandong Province （COURTESY PHOTO）
The National Confucius Research Institute of China honored Professor Patrick Mendis with the International Confucius Award at a symposium in Qufu, China's southwestern Shandong Province. He is currently a distinguished visiting professor of Sino-U.S. relations at the renowned Yenching Academy of Peking University in Beijing.
A visiting research fellow of the Confucius Institute in Qufu for almost five years, Mendis is involved in promoting Chinese culture and Confucian values, in addition to a better understanding between China and the U.S. As a former Rajawali senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and a research associate at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University, Mendis is currently serving as a U.S. commissioner to UNESCO.
Professor Yang Chaoming, President of the Confucius Institute, welcomed Mendis and other distinguished researchers to the symposium. The invited experts included Dr. Mi Huaiyong, Vice President of the Institute, and other nationally-prominent Confucius scholars such as Dr. Wang Junlin and Dr. Liu Guangsheng.
Introducing the honored guest, Yang said that the Harvard-trained scholar is "an American educator, diplomat, author and government official," adding, "Dr. Mendis is a friend of China." He has been committed to "promoting and disseminating China's excellent traditional culture, especially Confucianism in the world," he said.
Moreover, Mendis has been a prolific writer, actively discussing the positive impact of traditional Chinese culture, international trade and the exchange of ideas. He has donated his important works, including the books on Trade for Peace, Commercial Providence, Peaceful War, and many other works on Sino-U.S. relations and Confucian ethics to the collection center of the Confucius Institute.
Mendis said Benjamin Franklin was the U.S. Confucius at the Qufu symposium（COURTESY PHOTO）
Prior to receiving the award, Mendis gave a compelling presentation titled Confucius in America: Inspiring the Founding Generation. He then conducted in-depth discussions with the invited scholars on the influence of Confucian thoughts in the founding of the U.S. and the underlying cultural comparisons between China and the U.S.
With numerous examples, he highlighted how Confucianism had an enduring impact on the thoughts of U.S. founders, especially Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and Charles Thomson. Even George Washington and Thomas Jefferson benefited from Chinese trade and Confucian culture, Mendis said. Today, the eastside pediment of the U.S. Supreme Court building's three marble figures represents the ancient lawgivers of Moses, Confucius and Solon.
Confucian thought was widely respected in the U.S. as it played an important role in world peace and development. There are many similarities between the two countries in their beliefs in heaven in China or providence in U.S., Mendis said, as he pointed out the application of the square and circle in architectural designing and city planning in Beijing and Washington, D.C., which derived from the legendary Fuxi and Nuwa, somewhat similar to Adam and Eve.
As the two great powers with cultural consensus, China and the U.S. can achieve win-win cooperation through effective communication and dialogue by jointly promoting world harmony and building a community of shared future for everyone, concluded Mendis, who also received the Benjamin Franklin Award from the U.S. Department of State during the George W. Bush administration.
Presenting the Confucius Award, Yang expressed China's appreciation and respect for the contributions made by Mendis in promoting Confucianism and a better understanding between China and the U.S.
Copyedited by Rebeca Toledo
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