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DLSU partners with China’s top universities

De La Salle University recently reached an agreement with three of the top universities in China to promote student and faculty exchanges; language and cultural studies; and collaborative workshops and seminars.

The three educational institutions in China are the Shanghai Jao Tong University; School of International Relations and Public Affairs – Fudan University; and the School of Natural Sciences and Humanities - Harbin Institute of Technology in Shenzhen. These three institutions are part of the C9 League, an alliance of the nine elite universities in China. They are considered as equivalent to the Ivy League in the United States.

The Philippine partner is the College of Liberal Arts of De La Salle University, an institution considered the leading private university and one of the top educational institutions in Southeast Asia. It is only one of three universities in the Philippines that offers a Chinese Studies Program.

According to DLSU professor emeritus Wilfrido Villacorta: “DLSU is the first Southeast Asian University to forge academic ties in humanities and social sciences with Fudan and Shanghai Jao Tong. It is a significant step towards strengthening mutual understanding between the peoples of Philippines and China.”

Fudan University is interested in the exchange of students and professors and research cooperation. Shanghai Jao Tong University is keen in pursuing double degree masters’ and doctoral programs with DLSU. Harbin Institute of Technology in Shenzhen has agreed to introduce a joint certificate program in International Business and Cultural Studies.

Professor Villacorta explained that the choice of partnering with two universities in Shanghai and one from the Shenzhen area was because of the strategic importance of these two areas.

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Shanghai is the largest city, not only in China, but also in the world. It has a population of 24 million as of 2014. It is a global finance center and is a transport hub with the world’s busiest container port.

This year, 491 companies of the Fortune 500 are operating in Shanghai. Already 518 multinational companies have set up offices in the city including 35 Asia Pacific headquarters, 305 investment companies and 388 research and development centers.

Shenzhen is the major financial center of southern China. It is home to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. It is also dubbed as China’s Silicon Valley because it is the headquarters of numerous high-tech companies.

The DLSU delegation that went to China was headed by Dr. Julio Teehankee, dean of the College of Liberal Arts; Dr. Wilfrido Villacorta, professor emeritus, former Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN and former Philippine Ambassador to ASEAN; Dr. Eric Batalla, chair of the Political Science department; and Robin Michael Garcia, faculty member who is presently completing his Ph.D. studies in Fudan University.

According to a member of the delegation, there was a warm discourse between the DLSU delegation and the Chinese academic hosts. Professor Chen Zhimin, dean of Fudan’s School of International Relations and Public Policy, and known specialist in China’s power strategy and neighborhood policy shared some of his publications with the La Salle professors.

The Filipino group also had a lively dialogue with Dean Zhing Yang of Shanghai University about political culture as a foundation of domestic and foreign affairs. The result is an agreement for the two institutions to conduct a joint conference.

One person who provided much needed logistical and transport support to the DLSU delegation was Carlos Chan, Special Philippine Envoy to China. He is also the owner of Oishi, the largest Filipino company operating in Mainland China.

Hopefully, this people to people program will help bridge the widening gap in the understanding of the two different cultures. De La Salle University should be congratulated for this academic pioneering effort.

Bridging the political-cultural gap

According to Chito Sta. Romana, the foremost China expert in the Phiippines, there is a lack of understanding about Filipino culture and history among Chinese academicians. They seem to perceive that the resistance to China’s territorial imperialism in the West Philippine Sea is a manifestation that the Philippines is anti-China and, therefore, a political pawn of the United States.

During the second half of the 20th century, Filipinos who denounced the bases and American interference in Philippine affairs were called Communists. They were labelled as Maoists and even Chinese puppets. This was an accusation that caused the great nationalist – Claro M. Recto – to lose his presidential bid.

Today, the same political stereotyping is happening. Those who condemn Chinese imperialism and its territorial land grabbing are being called American puppets or pawns.

I believe that to co-exist peacefully with China is to have more people-to-people programs. We need to convince the Chinese people that the Filipinos are just as nationalistic as they are about their homeland.

The Oxford Dictionary defines nationalism as “advocacy or support for the interest of one’s nation.” But nationalism cannot just be limited to simple feelings or loyalty and belief in nation. Nationalism demands that it becomes an organized doctrine or movement with clear goals. In our particular case, the goal of our nationalism is the return of territories seized from us.

This is not the first time in Philippine history that nationalism has become our battle cry against a foreign invader. It was the cry against the Spaniards, then the Americans and the Japanese.

The peoples of both China and the Philippines have suffered under foreign imperialists. Both have always rallied to the call of nationalism. Perhaps, if the two peoples learn more about each other, we can begin to find ways for both our people to appreciate each other’s culture and respect each other’s love of country.

Writing classes for kids & teens

Young Writers’ Hangout on December 5 (1:30-3 pm) at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street and December 12 (1-2:30 pm) at the Prism Gallery Salcedo St., Legaspi Village Makati. For registration and fee details contact 0917-6240196/ writethingsph@gmail.com.

 Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

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