(East-West Question) Zheng Peikai: How can Hong Kong, which is a fusion of Eastern and Western cultures, be inclusive and develop its soft power?

  China News Agency, Hong Kong, February 16th, Question: Zheng Peikai: How can Hong Kong, which is a fusion of Eastern and Western cultures, develop its soft power in an inclusive manner?

  China News Agency reporter Zeng Ping

  Hong Kong, which is a fusion of Eastern and Western cultures, enjoys geographical advantages and the dividends of the "one country, two systems" system, but there are voices calling it a "cultural desert" from time to time.

How should this city, which has high expectations, undertake the new mission of the Sino-foreign cultural and artistic exchange center?

How to be inclusive and give full play to their soft power?

Zheng Peikai, Chairman of the Hong Kong Branch of the Chinese Folk Artists Association and the first director of the Chinese Cultural Center of the City University of Hong Kong, recently accepted an exclusive interview with China News Agency "East and West Questions", and made an in-depth interpretation of this.

In October 2021, the touring exhibition of Hong Kong Culture Tour will be exhibited in Shenyang.

China News Agency issued Jin Kun photo

The following is a summary of the interview transcript:

China News Agency reporter: As a place where Eastern and Western cultures gather, what are the cultural characteristics of Hong Kong's social ecology?

Is the theory of "cultural desert" tenable?

Cheng Peikai:

In the past, under the British colonial rule, Hong Kong did not particularly emphasize cultural exchanges between the East and the West. The British colonists were at the top, and the entire elite followed the British and British culture.

The culture of ordinary people is not valued very much, so traditional Chinese culture in Hong Kong has only continued at a relatively popular and mass level for a long time, and its development and dissemination is much weaker than that of the British-ruled culture.

In addition, for more than 100 years, Hong Kong has been focusing on economic development, which is often referred to as "borrowed time and borrowed space", so some people call it a "cultural desert".

This statement has its historical background and rationale. Under the British rule, Hong Kong was a "cultural desert" for the development of Chinese culture.

  But it should not be forgotten that Hong Kong once gathered many very outstanding cultural people.

This is related to the great political and social changes in mainland China in history, and many cultural elites have fled to Hong Kong for refuge.

They each have their own strengths and special knowledge, and are able to think and develop some alternative cultural issues.

In this sense, Hong Kong is the land of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

After the 1950s, some "literati" and scholars from the Mainland came from Hong Kong to help Hong Kong's press and cultural and ideological circles flourish, and the academic circles carried forward Chinese cultural traditions, and Neo-Confucianism emerged.

These people play an important role in inheriting and promoting Chinese culture.

Therefore, it can be said that Hong Kong is "an oasis in the desert".

Although the emergence of a "cultural oasis" in Hong Kong is an isolated phenomenon, it is also historically important in the long run.

Furthermore, as far as Asia is concerned, Hong Kong's social situation is relatively stable, which is conducive to the integration and development of Chinese and Western cultures.

In the historical evolution of traditional Chinese culture, there are opportunities to multiply and develop new elements in Hong Kong.

At the 2018 Hong Kong Book Fair, the audience watched Eileen Chang's life introduction, works and manuscripts.

A large number of "Southern literati" such as Zhang Ailing created a "cultural oasis" in Hong Kong.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Zhang Wei

China News Service: What kind of cultural vision does the West Kowloon Cultural District carry?

What role will the Hong Kong Palace Museum play in the future?

Zheng Peikai:

Over the past 20 years since the return of Hong Kong, the SAR government must maintain political stability and continue to prosper economically. There is no time to consider the development of culture and art.

Now we should start from a more basic level of education, and we cannot let Hong Kong's "cultural oasis" become smaller and smaller.

In recent years, people's interest in culture and art has increased, which is a good phenomenon.

The West Kowloon Cultural District needs to play the role of the intersection of Eastern and Western cultures. The advantages of traditional Chinese culture and the advantages of Western culture in Hong Kong should be retained and developed in a complementary manner.

Based on these two foundations, Hong Kong can indeed play an important role in cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries.

The focus of the West Kowloon Cultural District is to promote the essence of cultural traditions and develop an elite culture that integrates Chinese and Western cultures.

Why can traditional Chinese culture flourish in the 21st century?

This requires the thinking and efforts of many people, and cannot be achieved by verbally speaking about internationalization.

In the past, some people may not have a clear understanding of the development of different civilizations in the world, and when they came into contact with the excellent elite culture of the United Kingdom, they felt that this was the foresight and trend of world culture, and they dismissed traditional Chinese culture.

In the long run, this was the weakest point in the thinking of the Hong Kong elite that was most unfavorable to the development of culture and art.

  The Hong Kong Palace Museum is not only to show China's past splendor in Hong Kong, a place where Eastern and Western cultures meet, but also to remind visitors to understand the aesthetic realm of Chinese traditional culture, and then think about how to carry forward and develop to a higher level.

Many of the exhibits in the Forbidden City were left over from the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, which are the essence of art displayed hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Seeing these excellent collections, modern people living in the 21st century should think about how to connect tradition and modernity, so as to develop the future, and what we can leave behind in terms of culture and art, worthy of this great tradition.

The Hong Kong Palace Museum under construction.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Zhang Wei

China News Service reporter: How do you view the influence of Hong Kong film and television songs and other popular culture?

What role does it play in the development of Hong Kong's cultural and artistic undertakings?

Zheng Peikai:

When Impressionism first appeared in the West in the 19th century, no one paid much attention to it, and it was even devalued. However, after a hundred or two hundred years, people knew that Impressionism had important artistic value, but people at that time were stubbornly stubbornly held to old-fashioned concepts, and they were not interested in innovative culture. Art is not very understandable.

Therefore, in the development of culture and art, we should try our best to create space for it and let it use its imagination to lead us forward. This is the context of the development of culture and art.

  Hong Kong's popular culture has a great influence. Popular culture, especially film and television culture, basically depends on the market. Although there are some vulgar products, there are also masterpieces with originality.

As long as it does not suppress its development, under the guidance of the market, the government does not need to invest too much resources and energy.

However, cultural development has many levels. If we only focus on economic benefits, the development of popular culture will also cause serious problems.

Long-term cultural development requires the careful investment of many people and the support of the society's discerning eyes, not just whether there are immediate benefits.

  Hong Kong can play an important role in the development of culture and arts, because it has extensive and deep exposure to Western culture, and at the same time has Chinese heritage.

Many people expect Hong Kong to bring out the essence of traditional Chinese culture with Hong Kong's characteristics.

This requires the hard work of those of us living in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong artistes do promotions for TV series.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Deng Qingle

China News Service: How is the inheritance of traditional Chinese culture in Hong Kong?

What are the foundations and advantages of developing a Chinese-foreign cultural and artistic exchange center in Hong Kong?

What are the challenges and opportunities for the future?

Zheng Peikai:

The development of traditional Chinese culture in Hong Kong can be divided into two aspects.

On the one hand, due to British colonial rule, the development of traditional Chinese culture at the elite level in Hong Kong is weak.

Those cultural people are mostly isolated and isolated, and their hobbies and beliefs in culture and art were difficult to expand in the past and become a social ethos that led cultural development.

On the other hand, most of the people living in Hong Kong are Chinese, and the cultural traditions of their daily life are Chinese-style, especially the customs and habits of Lingnan culture.

Hong Kong's intangible cultural heritage also retains many customs and characteristics of traditional Chinese culture.

All in all, Hong Kong's elites and ordinary classes are different in the inheritance of traditional Chinese culture, and they must be connected in the future. The former should be more grounded, and the latter should be improved.

Hong Kong's advantage lies in having both an international environment and the foundation of Lingnan culture. I believe that it will develop better in the future.

In June 2021, the Hong Kong Museum of Art will hold the exhibition "South of the South Mountains - Selected Paintings from Guangdong", which will showcase the influence of painters from the Lingnan region and their works on early Hong Kong painting.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Li Zhihua

China News Service reporter: How can stakeholders better contribute to the development of Hong Kong's cultural and artistic undertakings and leverage the soft power of the "Pearl of the Orient"?

Zheng Peikai:

First of all, we must understand the excellent traditional Chinese culture.

The traditions known to ordinary people in Hong Kong are only the most simple and basic parts, and are not enough to achieve cultural revival and innovation.

Humanities scholars should not only focus on publishing papers internationally, and use Western thinking standards to assess the direction of Chinese culture and art.

The quintessence of Western culture and art should be our reference and nutrient for us to use, not the other way around. Everything imitates the West and follows suit.

  Living in Hong Kong, we must make good use of this opportunity, give full play to our strengths from our own perspective, integrate Eastern and Western cultures, and create new things.

Specifically, everyone has their own method, and they should do their best to add a brick and a tile.

Elites in other fields should also keep in mind the prospects of mankind, and strive to absorb traditional Chinese and Western cultures from a long-term historical perspective, and invest in their own areas of expertise.

The SAR government should also have a broader mentality and a long-term perspective, constantly think about the development of culture and art, and provide a better environment and resources for this.


Tramways on the streets of Hong Kong.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Li Zhihua

Interviewee Profile:

  Zheng Peikai, a native of Rizhao, Shandong Province, graduated from the Department of Foreign Languages ​​of National Taiwan University and received a Ph.D. in History from Yale University.

During my study in the United States, I mainly studied the history after the Ming Dynasty and compared the cultural exchanges between the East and the West.

He has taught at State University of New York, Yale University, Pace University, National Taiwan University, etc.

In 1998, he founded the Chinese Cultural Center at City University of Hong Kong and served as the director and professor of the center.

At the same time, he is a consultant of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, a member of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee of the Home Affairs Bureau, a member of the Hong Kong-Taiwan Cultural Cooperation Committee, a visiting professor of Chinese culture at Zhejiang University, and a special lecturer at Feng Chia University.

  Zheng Peikai's research areas include the history of Chinese cultural consciousness, involving artistic thinking, artistic creation, art appreciation, the relationship between criticism and cultural thinking, and cultural aesthetics.

Literary and artistic creations are mainly modern poetry and prose.

The main research projects currently in charge include: Inheritance of Kunqu Opera in the 20th Century, Ceramics to the West, Tea and Chinese Culture, Classical Translation and Cultural Thinking, etc.