The Lingnan cultural base and prominent economic center will serve as the hub for China's outreach efforts, experts say.
Sharing the same roots and origins, cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area have a historical foundation for integrated development in culture, but more efforts are needed to leverage the region's unique advantages brought about by the "one country, two systems" principle and to promote cultural openness and innovation, cultural heavyweights said.
They made their remarks at the "Building up the Cultural Strength of the Greater Bay Area" sub-forum, held in Shenzhen on Thursday. The sub-forum, hosted by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, was one of the parallel sessions of the Forum on Building up China's Cultural Strength, which included one main forum and seven other parallel sessions.
In addition to the keynote addresses from six renowned culture experts, the forum also features four thematic panels, attracting more than 10 professionals in the arts and humanity fields, including many young practitioners, who discussed cultural policy-making, people-to-people exchanges, cultural innovation and development, cultural communication, and mutual learning.
In a symposium on cultural inheritance and development held on June 2, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, stressed that it is the nation's new cultural mission in the new era to further promote cultural prosperity and develop a great culture in China and a modern Chinese civilization from a new starting point.
It is imperative for the Chinese people to have greater confidence in their own culture, shoulder the mission, work diligently and proactively, and make concerted efforts to create a new culture of our times and build a modern Chinese civilization, Xi said.
Cheng Pei-kai, chairman of the Chinese Folk Literature and Art Association Hong Kong branch, said the Greater Bay Area is a place where diverse cultures converge, with Zhongyuan and Lingnan cultures coexisting and Western cultural elements integrated into Hong Kong's and Macao's respective cultures.
"We ought to leverage the diverse cultural resources in the Greater Bay Area to develop a cultural system with distinct Chinese characteristics, providing a solid foundation for advancing Chinese culture to a new phase where 'the whole world is one family'," said Cheng, who is also an academic advisor of Our Hong Kong Foundation.
Cheng suggests that Greater Bay Area cities set up multicultural development bases and invite scholars and art professionals from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and those from overseas to promote integrated cultural development in the region. "The future of multicultural development lies in integration, not confrontation," he said.
Cheng's view was echoed by Chen Chunsheng, secretary of the Party Committee of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou and head of the university's Institute for the Study of Lingnan Culture.
Chen said he believes development of the Lingnan culture is a process of exchanges, interaction and integration between different groups of people and traditions, and historical development of the Greater Bay Area also follows the same process.
"Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao have the same root and origin. Hong Kong and Macao's prosperity since modern times is based on the collective efforts of the Cantonese, Chaoshan and Hakka people. ... We can say that the Greater Bay Area is originally integrated," he said.
Chen acknowledged that the three places experienced independent development since modern times due to historical reasons and they have developed different characteristics in the process of modernization.
"But people in the Greater Bay Area share the same ancestors and language, and Lingnan culture is the common historical and cultural foundation of the region. ... These fundamental features have not changed."
Chen urged the authorities to fully leverage the valuable resources that people in the GBA share the same regional culture to promote cultural integration and bonding in the region.
Wu Zhiliang, a member of the 14th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee and president of the Administrative Committee of the Macao Foundation, said that "one country, two systems" is the most characteristic feature of a cultural Greater Bay Area, and efforts should be made to fully leverage the value and potential of the principle.
"Having different social institutions and legal systems in the Greater Bay Area will indeed bring difficulties and challenges to its convergence and integration. However, if we make good use of it, the 'two systems' could be the biggest advantage of the Greater Bay Area," he said.
"How to fully tap the value and potential of the 'two systems', understand the law of social development and historical and cultural deposits of Hong Kong and Macao, and make innovative transformation of them ... should become a major subject for Greater Bay Area development."
Jiang Shuzhuo, a professor in the College of Liberal Arts of Jinan University, highlighted the importance of deepening reform and opening-up as well as promoting innovation in pushing forward integrated cultural development in the Greater Bay Area.
"Openness, compatibility, innovation, and creativity are not only characteristics embodied in the living practices and lifestyles of residents of the Greater Bay Area, but they are also part of their values, which are fundamental to the cultural identity of the region," said Jiang, who is also chairman of the Guangdong Writers Association.
"In the new era, deepening reform and opening-up as well as promoting innovation and creativity should become the dominant culture in guiding Chinese cultural development, creating a growing impact and playing a leading role."
That the central government has given Hong Kong the historic mission of developing into a hub for arts and cultural exchanges between China and the rest of the world and enhancing the city's global culture and arts status is "a shot in the arm" for the city's industry, said Poon Yiu-ming, liberal arts advisor at the Hong Kong Arts Development Council.
He said building a modern civilization of the Chinese nation is a new cultural mission for people in the Greater Bay Area in the new era.
"I believe the sub-forum will serve as a valuable platform to promote Hong Kong's cultural integration with the rest of the Greater Bay Area, strengthen the city's role as a cultural exchange hub within the region, and also increase the glamour of the 'Pearl of the Orient', which has rich Eastern and Western cultural heritages," said Poon, who is also chairman of Federation of Hong Kong Writers.
Shaw Chong-hai, honorary professor of Macao Polytechnic University and former head of College of Social Sciences of the Chinese Culture University in Taiwan, shared his personal story of engaging with different cultures of the nation.
Born in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan province, and raised in Hong Kong, Shaw moved to Taiwan but later returned to Shanghai.
"I have never felt that I was in a strange land no matter where I have been in China over the years since there is no language barrier. Even in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and the Tibet autonomous region, homes to different ethnic minorities, I still feel close to the local people," he said.
"The 5,000-year-old Chinese culture brings all Chinese from every corner of the world together."
The one-day event also featured several seminars, with panelists of diverse backgrounds sharing their insights and thoughts on four themes - cultural policy and cultural development, cultural blending, innovation and development, exchanges and mutual learning. Over 100 people attended the sub-forum.