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Understanding Asia 2018

From February 12-16, the Fudan-European Centre for China Studies along with NIAS – Nordic Institute of Asian Studies and Nansen Academy co-arranged the 2018 Understanding Asia course, which took place at Nansen Academy in Lillehammer, Norway.
Held annually since 2013, the course features five days of lectures and activities to provide participants with a deeper understanding of the cultural, political, and economic elements shaping today’s Asia.

Geir Helgesen gave a lecture entitled ‘Culture and politics, an introduction to (North) Korea’.  Here he mapped the landscapes of the political cultures of “the two Koreas” which, although often seen as in opposition, has deeply rooted similarities due to their common history. He also hosted a meeting at Nansen Academy under the title ‘North Korea – a threat to world peace or a convenient enemy? Uncomfortable questions and controversial answers’. The meeting was open for participation for all interested, and served as an introduction to the present-day conflict on the Korean peninsula. Geir Helgesen offered an analysis of the situation and suggested that consistent dialogue with North Korea is the most feasible option for a solution of the conflict.

Chunrong Liu gave two lectures, addressing China’s perspective on the tensions on the Korean Peninsula and Chinese politics in the “New Era”. On Korea nuclear affairs, he invited a deep thinking about the root cause and the discussion about “who has the key”.  He showed how China has been involved in the mediation process with the initiative of the Six Party Talk, and explained China’s priorities of peace, stability and dialogue, as well as the possibility to avoid a war in a “dark forest”.  In the second lecture, he analyzed China’s domestic politics – new dynamics associated with the 19th CPC national congress.  He showed the continuities and “paradoxical developments” of Chinese politics, which features both power recentralization and the new political spaces that are necessary for the implementation of national policy schemes of poverty reduction and eco-civilization. 

Finally, professor dr. Song Xinning, Jean Monnet Chair ad personam and China director of BACES – Brussels Academy for China and European Studies gave a lecture on EU-China relations under the title ‘EU-China strategic partnership under the new leadership’.  He characterized EU and China as partners in terms of economy (trade and investment), global governance, development and culture, and argued that while both EU and China has benefitted from their mutual cooperation, deepening the relations between the two will prove beneficial for both parties. He also argued that the change in leadership in China has produced a “new thinking” of EU-China relations, which differs from past strategies in terms of its style, preference and policy. This thinking is guided by Xi Jinping’s “three two” understanding of the nature of EU-China relations: two forces for global peace, two markets for world economy, and two origins of world civilization.  

Following the conclusion of Understanding Asia, Geir Helgesen and Kasper Ørntoft Thor met with representatives from Nansen Academy, including rector Unn Irene Aasdalen, to discuss and plan for the 2018 NEWDAY summer school.

NEWDAY 2018 will take place 7-17 August of this year and will soon be open for applications from potential participants. It will feature lectures by prominent scholars, journalists and politicians for students to learn about and debate core issues of our time. For more information, visit www.newdaylillehammer.org

NEWDAY is arranged by NIAS, Fudan Centre and Nansen Academy with the support of Nordic Council of Ministers.

Chunrong Liu, Geir Helgesen, and Unn Irene Aasdalen