Forum on Hehe Culture calls for dialogues and exchanges among nations

Updated: Nov 9, 2023 By Ma Zhenhuan and Qi Xiao in Taizhou chinadaily.com.cn Print
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The 2023 Global Forum on Hehe Culture is held in Tiantai county, Taizhou city of East China's Zhejiang province on Nov 7, 2023. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Dialogues, exchanges and seeking harmony without uniformity among different civilizations are key to addressing the common challenges of the world, said officials, diplomats and experts on Tuesday at the 2023 Global Forum on Hehe Culture in Tiantai county, Taizhou city of East China's Zhejiang province.

Exchanges between civilizations and cultures have never been more necessary to protect the common interest of humankind, after three years of pandemic and in the wake of regional instability and humanitarian crises, said Du Zhanyuan, president of China International Communications Group, in a video address at the forum.

"Peace and security have been the most basic needs for humankind and the common aspiration of people of all countries since ancient times," he said. "The realization of world peace requires the right decisions and actions of governments and international organizations."

With peace as a core part, Hehe culture and Hehe spirit can serve as an effective antidote, Du said.

"Hehe" is a combination of two Chinese characters with the same pronunciation. The first "He" refers to peace and harmony, while the second denotes cooperation and integration.

Themed "Hehe Culture and Global Civilization Initiative", the annual Global Forum on Hehe Culture, the third edition this year, gathered some 500 participants from home and abroad in Tiantai county, the permanent site of the forum. The county is widely regarded as the cradle of Hehe culture.

Hehe culture embodies the concept of harmony but not uniformity, said Irina Bokova, former director-general of UNESCO, at the forum.

"It asks people to practice multilateralism, respect differences between different civilizations, support different countries to choose their development paths, insist on win-win cooperation and adhere to humanism," she said.

During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), a hermit poet known as Hanshan, or Cold Mountain, was said to have traveled all the way from the then capital Chang'an (now Xi'an city) to the Tiantai Mountain. There he met and befriended Shide, a monk from the local Guoqing Temple.

According to folklore, they were like brothers, invariably together. Whenever inspired, they would scribble their thoughts in poetry on rocks and walls. Over time, the close relationship between the two grew into a folk symbol of Hehe. Then in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the Yongzheng emperor bestowed on them the title of the "Two Gods of Hehe".

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