2,200 Applications, 3% Acceptance Rate for Yenching Global Symposium 2017

The Yenching Global Symposium, the Yenching Academy's flagship event, received over 2,200 applications this year, with an acceptance rate of approximately 3%.

The 75 delegates selected hail from 30 countries, speak 35 languages, and include representation from Rhodes Scholars, Marshall Scholars, Gates-Cambridge Scholars, Fulbright Scholars, and other major fellowships and leading institutions. As the map shows, the 2017 YGS Delegates, including the Yenching Scholars, represent 52 countries around the globe.

The delegates will be hosted on the Peking University campus from March 23-26 to participate in this year’s symposium on Chinese innovation.

Geographic distribution of 2017 YGS Delegates who hail from 52 countries around the globe.

Geographic distribution of 2017 YGS Delegates who hail from 52 countries around the globe.

The inaugural YGS ended with optimistic views on the role of China in the world

Speeches led by Ken Jarrett, President of the American Chamber of Commerce, and John Holden, Associate Dean of the Yenching Academy, opened room for deeper discussions on the field of China studies

The final keynote speech of the Yenching Global Symposium was led by the President of the American Chamber of Commerce Ken Jarrett, titled “Doing Business in China: Challenges and Insights”. In this talk he outlined some of the challenges that one may when doing business in China, but reassured the delegates that “it is never too late to start in China” and to “give it a try!”

Jarrett’s inspiring session was followed by a closing speech by Associate Dean of the Yenching Academy John Holden, a non-resident senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He told delegates that “There could not be a more interesting place to be in China, and in China, Beijing is the place to be”. 

Holden applauded the Yenching scholars on their hard work in organising the symposium, and thanked all those who were involved in making the Yenching Global Symposium the success that it turned out to be. Afterwards, the delegates enjoyed a roast duck dinner, which is one of Beijing's most famous dishes.

Tong Lihua and Jeremy Daum discuss public law at YGS

In a cozy talk with the delegates of the Yenching Global Symposium, both speakers showed their views on the challenges of public interest legislation in China

The Director of Beijing Zhicheng Law Firm and Beijing Child Legal Aid and Research Centre, Tong Lihua,, and Jeremy L. Daum, Senior Research Scholar in Law at Yale Law School, and Senior Fellow at The China Center, participated in a panel discussion at the Yenching Global Symposium. 

In this session, they discussed the developments and challenges of public interest law in China with almost 20 delegates. When asked about the motivation of setting up the Zhicheng Law Firm, Tong said: “From a lawyer’s perspective, we should consider not only providing high-quality legal aid to the rich, but also to children, migrant workers, criminal suspects, and criminal victims who would otherwise be unable to afford legal expertise. This way, they can believe in the legal system.” 

Tong also expressed his opinion about the Yenching Academy. For him, YCA holds a program that provides a chance for students with different backgrounds to study together, and learn from each other within Peking University. He believes it will contribute to the promotion of cross-cultural communication. 

Daum expressed his high expectations on the work of young students. From his perspective, a lot of people, such as Tong, have made important contributions to society already in his generation. However, as the future is for the next generation, progress should be even more significant from time to time. 

Hervé Machenaud talks about combatting climate change in China

The Chairman of EDF China shared the stage with UDNP China’s Hannah Ryder, moderated by Youthink Centre President and Founder Wang Zaikai

Expert perspectives from both public and private sectors regarding China’s role in the fight against climate change were shared in a talk held by Hervé Machenaud, Chief Representative and Chairman of EDF China, and Hannah Ryder, Head of Policy and Partnerships of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China, in the second day of the Yenching Global Symposium. 

Moderated by Youthink Centre President and Founder Wang Zaikai, the speakers began by presenting the ways in which concrete improvements in sustainability have been achieved within China in their respective fields. They emphasized that China is not only a committed player in combatting climate change, but that it is also setting a global example of efficiency in energy production. As a space for technological innovation and experimentation, it is leading the way for other developing nations to a greener economic transition.

Both of them emphasised the fact that the CCP has vocalised its commitment to meeting international targets, concretising China’s role as a key player in combatting global climate change. "When it comes to taking commitments, China is one of the few countries that respect them,” said Mr Machenaud. "China doesn't commit to things it cannot do," added Mrs Ryder.

On the subject of recent COP 21 summit in Paris, both speakers raised concerns. Ryder noted the challenges associated with the implementation of goals and commitments associated with this agreement, noting the role that the UNDP China plays in this respect. Machenaud discussed the failure of the accord to come to terms on a price for CO2 emission. 

The end of the talk left most with a sense of optimism about the future of China’s contributions to the mitigation of climate change. Indeed, the remarks shared may help some to keep high spirits during Beijing's smoggy days.

Hannah Ryder offers optimistic insights into China's role in climate change

In a warm talk with YGS delegates, the Head of Policy and Partnerships for UNDP China also emphasized the importance of sustainable development

The Yenching Global Symposium welcomed Hannah Ryder, Head of Policy and Partnerships for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China. Delegates interested in the work of the UN, and in particular, the UNDP, had the opportunity to attend a lunch session with Ryder prior to her talk, “Combating Climate Change in China”. During the session, delegates introduced themselves and shared their interests, thoughts and questions on the work of UNDP in China. Ryder imparted her professional and personal experiences in an informal atmosphere, giving lucid answers to the questions of our eager delegates.

In the Climate Change talk that immediately followed, Ryder opened the discussion highlighting the primary ways in which the UN supports China with its development and environmental goals. She noted the UN’s role in supporting China in terms of its global role and cooperation with other countries. “China is trying to take action,” she said. “China is trying to make a difference, particularly because it will bring domestic benefits as well.” Ryder talked about China’s impact on global emissions, its contribution to knowledge sharing for developing countries and the importance of working with China on Climate Change.

With respect to the role of UNDP in this process, Mrs. Ryder mentioned a number of key points, including, supporting China with delivering on its development commitments in by addressing “implementation challenges”. She also highlighted the role of UNDP in connecting China’s experience to that of other developing countries with the aim of leapfrogging similar development challenges

During a one-on-one interview following the talk on climate change, Mrs. Ryder expressed her willingness to interact with Yenching Scholars in the future by giving talks in the Academy. She also mentioned that she is very impressed by the diversity of YCA, both in terms of nationalities represented by the scholars and educational backgrounds. Impressed by the extensive aptitude demonstrated by the YGS delegates and Yenching Scholars, Ryder gave them two advices: “Keep your options open and grab opportunities”, she said. “And know your stuff”, emphasising the value of having substantive knowledge to support your efforts. 

He Yafei delivers keynote speech at the Yenching Global Symposium

The Yenching Global Symposium begins its second day with a speech on security issues in China by Former Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs He Yafei

The second day of the Yenching Global Symposium started successfully with a keynote speech delivered by former Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs He Yafei. He discussed China’s main security issues and the relations China has developed with neighbors and strategic partners. He mentioned that the rise of China as a global power has led to the establishment of partnerships with many states and he hopes that these relationships will be marked by “no conflict, no confrontation and mutual respect”.

Prior to the talk the Yenching Academy was honored to announce Mr. He’s official appointment as distinguished professor of the Yenching Academy, where he will teach a course on international relations. According to Mr. He, the Yenching Academy is a program like no other in China, as it brings together top students from around the world to learn to make choices in global governance. He feels that this is essential, as in order to “lead humanity to prosperity it is important to understand China”.

St. Petersburg Professor Alexander Storozhuk speaks of Buddhism’s influence in Tang Dynasty

Professor Alexander Storozhuk hosts a seminar on the influence of Buddhism on Chinese Foreign Policy and Relations during Tang Dynasty

Professor Alexander Storozhuk, the Head of the Department of Chinese Philology at St. Petersburg University, delivered a seminar on the influence of Buddhism on Chinese foreign relations during the Tang Dynasty, yesterday afternoon.

He started his seminar by making delegates aware that the meagre hour he had been allocated would in fact be too short for him to do justice to an inquiry into the influence of Buddhism on China during the Tang Dynasty. He did, however, promise to do his best.

“Buddhism is more than just loving Buddha” he urged, before discussing a well summarised history of the ascendency of the religion during the Tang Dynasty. As Buddhism gained popularity during the Tang Dynasty, curiosity regarding the nature of the religion spread rapidly. Individuals across the social hierarchy in the Tang Dynasty turned to Buddhism, at different times, when searching for solutions to problems. While the history of Buddhism in China can be traced as far back as the Han Dynasty, Professor Storozhuk highlighted how, during the Tang Dynasty, its influence in China was at its peak.

In an interview after his seminar, Professor Storozhuk reflected on the changes that have occurred in China during the approximately 30 year period over which he has visited the country. While he mourns the destruction of areas he treasured due to the city’s changing physical landscape, he marvelled at how the exceptional spirit of the people has remained the same. 

Kaiser Kuo discusses the “Great Firewall”

The Head of Baidu International Public relations talks internet censorship, moderated by former CNN Chief Jaime Florcruz

Will we ever be able to have full access to internet in China without using a VPN? What determines levels of internet censorship? And how fragile is the “Great Firewall”? These are some of a wide range of probing questions posed by the delegates who attended the talk led by Kaiser Kuo, the head of Baidu International Public Relations, at one of the seminars of the Yenching Global Symposium. Moderated by Jaime Florcruz, former CNN Beijing bureau chief, the debate on perspectives for internet censorship in China brought up nuanced insights on the current and future of Chinese cyberspace. 

Professor Yan Se offers pragmatic insights into future of Chinese economy

Moderated by CCTV journalist Martina Fuchs, Yan led a thought-provoking discussion on rebalancing the Chinese economy

Drawing from their academic backgrounds and conversations with Chinese business leaders, both Yan Se, Research Professor at the Peking University Department of Applied Economics, and Martina Fuchs, CCTV Host and Business Reporter, shared their valuable insights as expert observers of the transformation of the Chinese economy this afternoon.  

Professor Yan Se depicted in his speech an optimistic picture of the Chinese economy by delving into a thorough data rich analysis of its recent evolution. While doing so, he stressed the influence of public opinion on the market. "People often times are very influenced by sentiments, I think they should base their judgements on data," he said. He then broadened the scope of current assumptions on the country's economy by laying out the typically Chinese social and political factors essential for a complete understanding of the situation.

His concern however, lay in the up-and-coming transition from a traditional economic pattern based in manufacturing to an emerging service-based economy driven by a highly educated workforce. "The biggest problem of China is that when we are rebalancing", said Yan. "Money is already flowing to the new sector, but people flow very slowly. There are so many people in the traditional sector and it is very difficult for them to adjust to the new environment."

His presentation was followed by a lively discussion with CCTV reporter Martina Fuchs. She raised some concerns about the efficiency of future financial reforms, which he addressed with a very positive outlook. "China is still a land of opportunities," he added. In the last part of the panel discussion, student delegates also actively engaged with the Professor.

Andrew Yan shares three life stories

The Co-Founder of venture capital fund SAIF Partners delivers candid, inspiring anecdotes about life, career and the importance of dreaming big. 

Co-Founder & Managing Partner of venture capital fund SAIF Partners, Andrew Yan, has reinvented himself several times throughout his career. He shared his thoughts candidly on the basis of this theme—to grow into the best version of oneself personally and professionally through a process of learning and retooling.  It was after changing majors three times during his university years, making various career moves from factory work in the countryside to publishing, that Yan finally found his passion for investment. Today, he also serves in directorial and advisory roles at 12 other prominent companies in addition to a number of professional accolades and recognitions.

Yan titled his presentation “Three Life Stories”, or “三个故事” (san ge gushi): “The Story About Belief”, which was dedicated to Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, who due to Yan’s support was able to acquire financial backing for his firm; “My Story” which was full of important life lessons from his personal experiences; and finally, “A Story About Persistence”, which demonstrates the great importance of having dreams and ideals, and working towards them.

In a brief interview following his talk, Yan shared his thoughts on the YGS, saying that he very much supports the idea of having conferences of this kind, not only within PKU but also at other universities. When asked to give advice to those participants who are just starting their careers, Yan advised them to do what they love—and if later they find it is not suitable, they can always do something else. He also commented on the change in the topic of his speech, saying that instead of statistics he decided to share with the delegates these three stories with the hope that they will inspire us to pursue our dreams and goals. 


Creating strong people-to-people ties through international education exchange programs

Deputy Director-General of International Cooperation and Exchanges of the Ministry of Education, Fang Jun, addresses the Yenching Global Symposium

The Yenching Global Symposium welcomed the Deputy Director-General of International Cooperation and Exchanges of the Ministry of Education, Fang Jun, to be keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of the Symposium. Mr. Fang spoke highly of the Ministry initiatives taken towards increasing the number of foreign students living on exchange in China. He emphasised that China has developed strong political, diplomatic and economic connections and now is shifting to focus on developing a “strong people-to-people mechanism”. The increasing number of international students coming to China is an indicator of this shift in focus.

Mr. Fang spoke highly of his previous encounter with Yenching scholars in which they discussed issues concerning Chinese education as they demonstrated a “mature and complex interest” in the issues China is facing with in this regard. When questioned on the possible obstacles that the development of people-to-people relations could face, Mr. Fang’s answer was quite optimistic: “There aren’t any”. The number of countries that China develops this kind of relationship with will increase in the coming years. 



The inaugural Yenching Global Symposium has officially begun

Distinguished guests and delegates from over fifty countries attended the opening ceremony

Delegates awoke this morning, some only just arriving from their respective points of origin, abuzz with excitement about the start of the inaugural Yenching Global Symposium (YGS). Scholars and delegates alike have counted down to this flagship event of the Yenching Academy. The energy was palpable as participants filed in through the doors of the auditorium in anticipation of the morning’s opening and keynote speeches.

Laya Maheshwari, Chairman of the Symposium, opened the gathering with an eloquent address, in which he highlighted the significance of the Symposium to the Academy, the organizing committee and to all those involved in the process of making this three-day international conference a reality. Maheshwari shared that despite the limited time for preparation, with the support of Peking University and the Yenching Academy, the YGS brought together 200 delegates from 50 different countries.

Following Maheshwari’s address, the dean of the Yenching Academy, Professor Yuan Ming shared her impressions of the Symposium, noting a particularly distinguishing factor. She remarked that this event is “being shaped and brought together by students themselves” and imparted upon the participants her hopes for them to lead and innovate in their selected fields. The speech of Peking University Vice President, Li Yan Song, accentuated that only with “trust and mutual understanding can we build bridges between cultures” and the YGS contributes significantly to this goal. The closing speech of Fang Jun of the Ministry of Education revealed a positive statistic for the number of international students coming to China and he emphasized the importance of creating a people-to-people connection between nations.

As the opening ceremony came to a close, the delegates emerged for a coffee break, smiles in abundance, ready to embark on a journey to learn about China alongside the Yenching Scholars as they discover first-hand the numerous opportunities China holds for building international bridges across sectors.

YGS International delegates are arriving in Beijing

Scholars selected from around the world will attend the inaugural Yenching Global Symposium, starting tomorrow March 24th.

Hosted by the Yenching Academy of Peking University (PKU), the inaugural Yenching Global Symposium (YGS) is a student-led, cross-generational two-day event, starting tomorrow (March 24th) at the Qiulin hall of the School of International Studies. The 192 delegates of the symposium, who hail from around 50 different countries and regions, are talented graduate students and accomplished young professionals from a wide range of fields. A quarter of them, who are coming from all five continents to attend the symposium, are arriving today in Beijing.

The opening ceremony of the first YGS will comprise of speeches from Laya Maheshwari, Chairman of YGS and a Yenching Scholar; Yuan Ming, Dean of the Yenching Academy; and Vice President Li Yansong, Peking University. "After months of hard work, the Yenching Global Symposium is finally here. The opening ceremony will be a grand showcase of the values of and the support behind the event", says Maheshwari. Following the inaugural session, distinguished speakers and panelists will lead seminars, keynote speeches, and interactive sessions about China’s impact on the world and the influence that the world has on China. 

For the complete list of speakers, please click here