Thailand can be a shining example of how to interact with China, and the Government of Thailand by opting for the high-speed railway has taken a geopolitical decision. Stating this was Prof. Feng Da-Hsuan, Director of Global Affairs and Special Advisor to Rector of University of Macau (UMacau) while delivering a talk on “Supercontinent, Neo-Renaissance and Cultural Communication: Millennium Mindset Transformation induced by the Belt and Road Initiative,” at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT).
Prof. Feng remarked that with the Belt and Road Initiative, China can reinvent itself and make the world a better place for generations to come. BRI can unleash three global transformations including the idea of an Asia-Europe supercontinent, emergency of neo-renaissance and a massive upsurge in cultural communications. Further, BRI is an attempt by China to redefine the meaning of a powerful nation.
Mentioning that in the past 16 years, China has constructed 20,000 kilometers of high-speed rail, he stated that high-speed rail is becoming ubiquitous in East Asia and Europe. On the other hand, despite pronouncements by former US President Barack Obama, high-speed railways has not moved an inch in the United States.
He quoted the example of the emerging middle classes in China, and how they are influencing markets all over the world. The price of durian has skyrocketed due to demand from China, and while farmers in Thailand will profit, others may be uncomfortable with this development, Prof. Feng added.
Prof. Feng began by shattering the myths of continental boundaries. “The separation of Asia and Europe is artificial,” Prof. Feng said, adding that though the delineation is deep-rooted, BRI can break this mindset. The emergence of a supercontinent aided by connectivity facilitated by BRI would then induce a neo-renaissance, he added.
These challenges and transformations will need a fresh impetus to cultural communications. “China’s biggest problem is cultural communications, and to ensure the success of BRI, China must increase its understanding of political economic and cultural environment of at least some if not all of the nations and regions along with way,” Prof. Feng said.
Moderating the discussion was Suthichai Yoon, Chairman of the Nation Multimedia Group, who critiqued the presentation, and invited the audience to join the discussion. Asserting that he was not representing the government or any organization from China, Prof. Feng fielded questions on whether the leadership in China is ready for cultural communications. “The outside world has had no time to adjust to the growth in China, and this is true even in China,” Prof. Feng added. The biggest challenge in China is the last 20 years is not scientific or economic, but an issue of mindset, which Prof. Feng hoped would change with BRI.
Earlier, Dr. Subin Pinkayan, Chairman, AIT Board of Trustees, welcomed Prof. Fengand Suthichai. AIT President Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai, while thanking the panelists stated that this would count among the best AIT Public Lectures organized by AIT over the past two decades. Shawn Kelly, Director, Office of External Relations, AIT was the host of the event.