Farewell to the Old Times, Forwards to a New Asia :Exploring a Silk Road for Law and Society Research

[News From]:Ji Weidong [Edited by]:Xiao Mengli [Published]:2013/3/25 10:53:35

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Dear Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,


First of all, on behalf of Koguan Law School, Shanghai Jiaotong University and personally on my own, I would like to extend my warmest welcome to all of you. As Confucius said, “A great pleasure still it is when friends of congenial minds come from afar to seek you”. The pleasure is even more so for such eminent friends as are all of you, internationally-renowned scholars, future stars of Asia and students travelling far and wide for acquiring knowledge. No pleasure is greater for me than to embrace all of you and to join our hands in this gathering.


As is well-known, with such emerging economies as China, India and Russia, a new Asia is entering into the world stage with vigour and vitality. This is a restructuring of the world order in the past hundreds of years, which shall no doubt lead to paradigmatic change in order and institutions.


Asia is no longer the stagnant one as criticised by J.G. Herder and Hegel. On the contrary, it has been in a state of unprecedented dynamics, with tremendous speed of development. As a matter of fact, this rapidly-developing situation has moved the centre of gravity of the world economy to the East. Indeed, a vibrant Asia has on parity provided propelling forces to the recovery and further flourishing of the world economy, for which it is of great necessity to reshape our views on both Asia and the world.


By the same token, Asia is no longer characterised as Oriental Despotism by Karl A. Wittfogel. Such modern ideas as of the Rule of Law, Liberty, Democracy and Justice, have been widely accepted in Asian countries. China has just concluded its political process of leadership succession, where the Spring of constitutionalism is on our doorstep. To constrain government power through the logic of market competition is as much a response by the new leadership as a gesture to answer popular calls as a serious political commitment. Reform, opening-up and modernisation are shared by all – both as historical experiences and as strategic opportunities.


At the same time, the system of cultural values is regaining its momentum in Asia, to be appreciated, interpreted and integrated in a renewed fashion. The Confucian philosophy with an emphasis on ethical responsibility and the spirit of difference-respecting and harmony can be combined with the theory of communicative actions as advanced by Habermas, thus crafting an alternative path or option for the economic integration of diverse Asian economies, as well as for the improvement of global governance based on pluralism. On the other side of the coin, arguably Asia is in a greater need than ever – before Europe and North America – as a to reflect its own past, present and future.


In order to overcome “pluralistic ignorance”, strengthening mutual communication is a must. In this sense, the keyword in our 21st century is communication. Only through communication in a full manner will it be possible for effectuating mutual understanding, trust and confidence, and eventually consensus. To build a new Asia requires no less the base of social consensus in which legal communication shall beyond any doubt play a leading role.


The third East Asia Law and Society Conference to be held here tomorrow aims at providing a platform for dialogues between East and West, as well as exchange among Asian countries. This pre-conference Postgraduate Workshop today sets as its objective to provide early-career social scientists and opinion leaders with an opportunity for expression and exchange of ideas. The interlocutors here include not only local Asian scholars, postgraduates and overseas students, but also those from non-Asian countries, as well as senior professors in different fields.


In the history of East Asia law and society cooperation and networking, it is the first time to establish a Postgraduate Workshop, which is no less than an institutional innovation. Central to academic flourishing in the field, as well as to the building of fundamental consensus over a new Asian order, can be the exchange of ideas, demonstration of excellences, and communication of feelings among early-career social scientists and students on their own, as well as the supervision and critical comments from internationally-renowned scholars. We hope that this arrangement of a Postgraduate Workshop shall be continued thereafter, to be routinised and institutionalised.


Apart from this, Koguan Law School, Shanghai Jiaotong University has joined hands with Cambridge University Press to initiate an international journal, namely the Asian Journal of Law and Society, which will strive to become an enduring communicative platform with a greater scope for scholars from a widest variety of national and disciplinary backgrounds.


As a widely acknowledged proposition in the sociology of law goes, discourse gives birth to structure. In the light of this, we hope that a new Asian blueprint can be conceived and shaped through the uninterrupted communication among us. Through this Shanghai Conference, an opportunity is offered for us to explore a new silk road for communication and cultural exchange of law and society research in Asia.


Thank you!