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The Academic Forum of the Third ACF Ministerial Meeting began at the Palace Museum on 28 October 2019. The theme of this year’s forum is “Protecting Ancient Civilizations, Promoting Human Development” with a focus on cultural heritage and sustainable development. Important scholars from the field of cultural heritage and other participants from the nine member states of China, Bolivia, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Peru, and Armenia as well as non-member observer states and international organizations have come together to exchange understandings of the current state of the heritage of ancient civilizations and to discuss effective methods for the protection and dissemination of those civilizations with panel discussions on such topics as “Differences and Similarities of the World’s Ancient Civilizations”, “Ancient Cultural Heritages and Their Continuation and Evolution in Modern Culture”, and “The Silk Road as Seen through the Lens of Archaeology”.
During the welcoming ceremony on 27 October, the Palace Museum’s Director Wang Xudong presented his welcome address and keynote speech “Dunhuang and the Palace Museum: Two Great Contemporary Inspirations of Ancient World Cultural Heritage”. Indicating the different driving forces of folk religion and national volition in the formation of the Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang and the Palace Museum, he stated how the cultural achievements of Dunhuang and the Museum inspire us to maintain the combined approach of national volition and folk strength to advance contemporary cultural heritage protection, transmission, and promotion.
Vice-Minister Zhang Xu, a member of the leading Party group of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People's Republic of China, noted in his remarks during the opening ceremony how in recent years the protection of Chinese and world cultural heritage protection is experiencing an increase in inseparable, interactive relationships. China is more actively participating in international cultural heritage protection with greater influence in the development of related industries. This year’s forum, he continued, as an example of that developing trend, is promoting exchange and innovation among each civilization.
Liu Zhengrong, vice president and secretary general of Xinhua News Agency, stated in his speech during the ceremony how cultural heritage, which is precious wealth that condenses human thought and wisdom, should exert a more lasting function and breed advancing values of the times as our shared responsibility and mission.
Deputy-Director Hu Bing of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage pointed out that civilizations communicate due to diversity, share mutual appreciation due to communication, and develop due to mutual appreciation.
The first ministerial level Ancient Civilizations Forum was held in Athens, Greece on 24 April 2017. Originally a joint initiative between Greece and China, the Ancient Civilizations Forum includes parallel academic conferences in addition to the ministerial level meetings and is aimed at promoting the development of historical civilizations and traditions in contemporary society through dialogue and exchange to advance the positive functions of mutual understandings and tolerance between different civilizations, ethnicities, and religions.
This year, the Academic Forum of the Third ACF Ministerial Meeting is being hosted by the Palace Museum. Since 2016, the Palace Museum has on three occasions organized the Supreme Harmony Forum on Protecting the World’s Ancient Civilizations and published The Declaration of Supreme Harmony to open a new chapter in international cooperation to protect ancient civilizations and construct new channels of communication. The forum’s aim to advance the protection of each country’s cultural heritage and communication between ancient civilizations happens to coincide with that of the Ancient Civilizations Forum, so the Palace Museum’s hosting of this Academic Forum is a deserved honor.
Li Baogang, founder of Beijing Cathay View Art District; Lou Wei, deputy-director of the Palace Museum; Hany El Tayeb, supervisor of the Scientific Office of the Ministry of Antiquities, Egypt; Despina Zernioti, director of Corfu Museum of Asian Art, Greece; Ivan Ghezzi, director of the Chankillo archaeological project in Peru and overseer for its World Heritage candidacy application; and Shan Jixiang, director of the Gugong Institute attended the opening ceremony and shared thoughts.
With support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People's Republic of China, Xinhua News Agency, and the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, this year’s forum was organized by the Palace Museum and the Forbidden City Cultural Heritage Conservation Foundation and is being held 27-30 October.
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Zhuang Ying