Shanghai-Paris links celebrated at showcase event

By Li Chunyan in Paris For China Daily | | Updated: 2024-04-20 22:40
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Vincent Louault, vice-president of the French Senate's France-China Group, makes a speech during the opening ceremony of an event named Our Water, To a Boundless Future on Thursday in Paris. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The Paris section of the first season of Our Water: Flowing from Shanghai – Intercultural Dialogues among World Cities was launched in Paris this week, as part of programs marking this year's Franco-Chinese Year of Cultural Tourism.

This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France.

The Paris section, which includes a series of events on the theme of Our Water, To a Boundless Future, had its launch ceremony at the Brongniart Palace on Thursday. It was initiated by the Information Office of Shanghai Municipality and hosted by Shanghai United Media Group and Shanghai International Culture Association. More than 100 representatives of the political, business, academic and artistic communities in both countries attended the event.

Vincent Louault, vice-president of the French Senate's France-China Group, said in his speech at the opening ceremony that "Shanghai and Paris bring us together today, with water being an indelible part of our shared history."

"Water is key to enabling us to face the future, as in confronting climate change and the various threats it brings, we can only move forward together and collaborate to ensure our future," he said.

He concluded that looking ahead, the two cities can collaborate in various aspects including urban governance, sustainable development, and economic and cultural exchanges, with water as a medium.

A forum was held after the launch ceremony. It focused on the cultural connection between Shanghai and Paris, as well as their urban development, and explored the opportunities for dialogue between the East and the West brought about by the 60th anniversary of Sino-French diplomatic relations.

Keynote speakers Wu Jiang and Martin Robain shared their insights on the sustainable development of waterfront cities in relation to rivers and historical heritage.

Wu, professor in the college of architecture and urban planning at Tongji University and an academician of the French Academy of Architecture, said that the geographical location of river convergence impacted urban development, using the transformation of public spaces along the Suzhou Creek as an example. Today, the banks of the Huangpu River and Suzhou Creek have not only become a public open space and a green cultural ecological space, but also a historical and cultural heritage. He also mentioned that going back centuries, Shanghai's geographical location and river accessibility have made trade easy.

Robain, chief designer of the Shanghai Expo Park and dean of the French Academy of Architecture, mentioned the efforts being made for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games in areas including environmental protection, resource recycling and circular economy, as well as the reduction of noise and disturbances.

He said that through events such as the Paris Olympics and the Shanghai World Expo, the cities have seized opportunities to engage in beneficial exploration and practice for the progress of human civilization, and the well-being of urban residents.

The forum included two roundtables. The first, entitled Source of Urban Inspiration, was chaired by Myriam Kryger, the former cultural consul of the French Consulate General in Shanghai. Together with several other French and Chinese speakers from the field of the humanities and art, they exchanged opinions on topics including the arts, literature, gastronomy, and urban transformation, as well as the cities' symbiotic relationship with rivers.

At the end of this discussion, all speakers were asked to choose a word to unite the cities of Shanghai and Paris.

Chen Jialing, professor at the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, pointed out that in Chinese, the character "法" (fa) in "法国" (France) contains the radical for "water", the character "黎" (li) in "巴黎" (Paris) includes the element of water, and the character "海" (hai) in "上海" (Shanghai) also incorporates the water element, so the common theme linking the two cities is water.

Eric Lefebvre, director of Paris's Cernuschi Asian Art Museum, suggested love for art, and Yuan Xiaoyi, dean of the Si-mian Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at East China Normal University, picked open-mindedness.

Andre Cointreau, global president of culinary and hospitality school network Le Cordon Bleu International, said universalism, and Liu Shilin, dean of the Institute of Urban Science at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, chose romantic as the common point.

In the second roundtable, Innovation Beyond Borders, business leaders and representatives from various sectors started from the spirit of water, and discussed innovation and cooperation across different fields and industries.

The events in Paris began on April 5 and ended on Sunday. The program includes a forum, exhibitions of painting, architecture and the visual arts, as well as cuisine programs, presenting a mosaic of the appeal of Sino-French cultural and artistic exchanges. 

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