The National Confucius Research Institute of China recently honored Professor Patrick Mendis with the International Confucius Award. The Sri Lankan-born American diplomat is currently a distinguished visiting professor of Sino-American relations at the renowned Yenching Academy of Peking University in Beijing.
A visiting research fellow of the Confucius Institute in Qufu for almost five years, Professor Mendis has been closely involved in promoting Chinese culture and Confucian values in addition to promoting better understanding between China and the United States.
A former Rajawali senior fellow of the Harvard Kennedy School's Ash Center for Democratic Governance, and a research associate of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University, he currently serves as an American commissioner to the Paris-based UNESCO.
Professor Yang Chaoming, president of the Confucius Research Institute of China, welcomed Professor Mendis and other distinguished researchers at the Qufu symposium. The invited experts included Dr. Mi Huaiyong, deputy Party secretary and vice president of the institute, and other nationally-prominent Confucius scholars like Dr. Wang Junlin and Dr. Liu Guangsheng.
Yang described the main guest as "a friend of China" committed to "promoting and disseminating China's excellent traditional culture, especially Confucianism in the world."
Prior to receiving the certificate of honor, the Yenching Academy professor made a penetrating presentation entitled "Confucius in America: Inspiring the Founding Generation." He then conducted in-depth discussions with the invited scholars on the influence of Confucian thoughts in the founding of the United States and the underlying cultural comparisons between China and America.
With numerous examples, he highlighted that Confucianism had an enduring impact on the thoughts of the "Founding Fathers" of the United States, especially Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Charles Thomson. Even George Washington and Thomas Jefferson benefited from China trade and Confucian culture, he said.
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