A workshop was held in Beijing in June 2018 by Berggruen Institute China Center on What is Tian-xia?. 13 papers were presented there, opening with the philosopher Zhao Ting-yang's "What is Tian-xia, after all?" and closing with the political scientist Daniel Bell's "Tian-xia in the Modern World: Towards an Asian Regional Order Led by China and India".

 

Berggruen Institute is a think tank devoted to the pursuit of "future governance". The aim of the workshop is obvious. "Can we find anything in the East Asian Tian-xia thought that can be utilized for the future governance of the World?"

 

East Asian tradition has been neglected in the Modern World because it did not seem to have the potential to contribute to the future of the World. It was even considered a hindrance to the development of human civilization because it was in many ways out of line with the modern (enlightenment) value system.

 

Now that people are increasingly worried about the failure of the modern world system, they are turning to East Asian tradition, among others, for renewed lessons. They are beginning to wonder if older traditions were equipped with principles that made them more durable.

 

In the last workshop most of the discussions centered on principles of human relationships. But some scholars made suggestions to widen the view to other relationships as well, including man's relationships with non-human beings, or with the nature.

 

The second "Tian-xia" workshop is scheduled for May 2019 in Qingdao, and probably a conference will follow in 2020. I expect the discussions there to develop into East Asian traditional views of the Nature. The failure of modern politics is urging people to reconsider not only relationships among humans but other relationships as well.

 

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