Conference on Orthodoxy and Russian culture in Asia held in Beijing

Chinese Orthodox Church – February 2014
English translation by Katherine Ilachinski

On December 13, 2013, a Chinese-Russian Conference “Russian cultural and historical traditions, and Russia’s relations with countries in the Asia -Pacific region” was held in Beijing. The scientific event was organized by the world of politics and public diplomacy, and the Institute of World Religions of China Academy of Social Sciences with the participation of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the support of the “Russkiy Mir” Foundation. The idea of the conference was endorsed by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The focus of this conference was, in particular, the role of the Russian Orthodox Church to deepen understanding of the peoples of Russia and Asia. The conference brought together leading experts on the issues of Russia and China, including researchers from universities and research centers, government agencies, and journalists.

The participants were welcomed by the director Zhuo Xinping of the Institute of World Religions of Academy of Social Sciences of China and Vice-Rector A.V. Lukin of the Diplomatic Academy of Russia. The conference featured presentations on the role of cultural and religious factors in the development of mutual understanding between Russia and the peoples of Asia, Orthodoxy and Russian-Chinese cultural relations, as well as about Orthodoxy in different regions of the world. The main purpose was to introduce to the Chinese scientific community the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church and the church communities in Asia created by her effort, as well as the contribution of these communities in the social development of Asian countries, their cultural life and the maintenance of political stability in them.

Substantial report on the historical role of the Russian Spiritual Mission in Beijing for the development of cultural relations between Russia and China , were presented by N.A. Samoilov the Acting Head of the Department of Theory of Social Development in Asia and Africa, from St. Petersburg State University, and scientific researcher Chen Kaike at the Institute of World Religions, CASS. The latter analyzed the relationship between the ministry of the Russian Spiritual Mission in Beijing and activities in China of Jesuit missionaries in the XVIII-XIX centuries. Senior Researcher Zhang Yaping of the Institute of World Religions of CASS talked about the general state of Russian culture in China. Director N.I. Maslakova of Center for World Cultures Institute of Contemporary International Studies of Diplomatic Academy of Russia introduced the participants with the role of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church worldwide in interfaith dialogue. Professor Zhang Baichun of Beijing Normal University talked about the influence of Orthodoxy in Russian philosophy. Professor Xu Fenglin of the Faculty of Philosophy of Peking University conducted a comparative analysis of the construction of the Chinese Confucian Wang Yangming and some Russian philosophers. Researcher D.I. Petrovsky of Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, in his speech gave a broad picture of the works of Russian Orthodox Church in the East Asian countries. Junior Fellow O.V. Puzanova at the Center for East Asian and SCO (University) MID of Russia submitted a report on the history and present state of the Japanese Autonomous Orthodox Church, and junior scientific researcher A.V. Vishivanyuk from St. Tikhon Orthodox Humanitarian University – on the state of Orthodoxy in the CIS states. Report of scientific researcher Shi Hengtang at the Institute of World Religions, CASS was devoted to presenting the results of a field study of the life of Orthodox Chinese in some regions of the country, conducted by staff of the Institute. Speaking in Chinese, junior researcher L.A. Afonina at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, considered the new trends of the religious policy of the PRC based on the example of Orthodox communities in China.

During the conference, D.I. Petrovsky handed Director Zhuo Xinping of the Institute of World Religions a book, published in Chinese, written by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia “Freedom and responsibility: in search of harmony. Human rights and dignity” and fundamental work “Orthodoxy in China” published with the blessing of the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion, which contains parallel text in Russian and Chinese. A.V. Lukin presented to the audience, prepared by him, an analytical report “Status of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church and the prospects of Orthodoxy in China.” A lively discussion followed.

The conference was also attended by representatives of the PRC State Administration for Religious Affairs, various Chinese universities and research centers, theRussian Embassy in China and the Russian Cultural Center in Beijing.