Global Thinkers Series: In Conversation with Wang Gungwu: Understanding the Sinic Civilization in World History

August 19, 2021

5am Virtual

Zoom Webinar Time:
5:00 a.m. – 6:30 a.m. PDT | 20:00-21:30 CST

Language: English

Click here to register and join the Zoom webinar or watch live on YouTube (Caixin Media Official Channel),Berggruen Institute’s YouTube channel, Weibo International (@微博国际), and Caixin Global (@财新国际)’s Weibo accounts will broadcast the dialogue at 8 P.M. on August 20th Beijing Time (5:00 a.m. PDT).

About the event:
Professor Wang Gungwu’s theory on the Eurasian Core and his insights on the rise and fall of continental and maritime powers in the past several millennia hold tremendous explanatory power for understanding the evolution and dynamic forces which have shaped and given character to the Chinese and Western civilizations. Wng’s work offers insight into the deep psyche and underlying motivations of major players in today’s geopolitical grand strategy.

Wang has had a long and illustrious academic career on regional histories and the world’s major civilizations. Born in the Dutch East Indies, he has lived in Malaysia, China mainland, Singapore, Hong Kong, England, and Australia, combine to make him a unique and insightful world history theorist.

Key Discussions:

  • How can we define “civilization”?
  • What is the Eurasian core?
  • How have emigrants shaped the patterns of expansion of Chinese civilization?
  • How have civilizations nurtured each other?


Wang Gungwu
Historian, Sinologist, Writer
University Professor, National University of Singapore
Emeritus Professor, Australian National University
Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Hong Kong

Professor Wang Gungwu is University Professor of the National University of Singapore and Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University.

Professor Wang received his BA and MA from University of Malaya (UM) in Singapore, and PhD at the University of London (1957). His early teaching career was in the UM History Department, 1957-68. He was appointed to the Chair of Far Eastern History at the Australian National University, 1968-86, where he was also Director of the Research of Pacific Studies, 1975-80. He served as Vice-Chancellor of The University of Hong Kong, 1986-95. In Singapore, he was Director of the East Asian Institute (EAI), 1997-2007, and Chairman of EAI, 2007-18.

Professor Wang is a Commander of the British Empire (CBE); Fellow, and former President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities; Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Science; Member of Academia Sinica; and Honorary Member of the Chinese Academy of Social Science. He was conferred the International Academic Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Cultural Prizes and, in 2020, awarded the Tang Prize in Sinology.

Other conversations by Professor Wang:
1. On Do Small States = Weak? (3mins)
2. On India-China relations (5mins)
3. On How Political Heritage and Future Progress Shape the China Challenge (1hour and 40mins, with Ezra Vogel, the event was held in October, 2020, two months before Vogel passed away)
4. On Geopolitical Panorama Facing Southeast Asia (26mins)
5. On America in China’s Century of Humiliation (3mins)


Song Bing
Vice President, Berggruen Institute
Director, Berggruen China Center

Bing Song is a Vice President of the Berggruen Institute and Director of the Institute’s China Centre. Prior to joining the Berggruen Institute, Ms. Song was a senior executive with Goldman Sachs China for over a decade, and prior to working at Goldman, she was a capital markets lawyer for many years. Earlier in her career, Bing undertook academic and policy research and published in the areas of administrative law, competition law and comparative procedural laws.

Recently she edited a book entitled Wisdom and Intelligence – Artificial Intelligence Meets Chinese Philosophers (published by Citic Press Group in February 2020). This was the first systematic endeavour by prominent Chinese philosophers of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism to address challenges and opportunities posed by frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics. A shorter version of the book has been translated into English and will be published by Springer in September 2021.

Bing sits on the boards of the Beijing Social Work Development Center for Facilitators, Yuan Dian Contemporary Art Museum in Beijing and Baixian Asia Institute in Hong Kong.

Li Xin
Vice President, Caixin Media
Managing Director, Caixin Global

Li Xin is Vice President of Caixin Media and Managing Director of Caixin Global, leading the company’s global news and intelligence services, as well as Caixin’s international branding and global events. Before Caixin, she was the Managing Editor of the Chinese Wall Street Journal and Chinese Dow Jones newswire.

This is her second stint at Caixin, where she was formerly the Managing Editor of Caixin: China Economics & Finance, an English-language magazine, and Caixin Online at Caixin Media.

In 2006, she founded Caijing Magazine’s first bureau in the United States, as a correspondent of politics and economics. Li was a documentary producer at China Central Television between 2001 and 2004. Li holds a bachelor degree from Tsinghua University, a master degree the journalism school of University of Missouri-Columbia and an Executive MBA degree from Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business.

She is an Aspen China Fellow and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, as well as a member of the International Media Council at the World Economic Forum. She is the co-chair of China Council for World Economic Forum Future Councils.

About the Global Thinkers Series

The spread of more deadly Covid-19 variants has once again raised uncertainty of economic reopening around the world. At the same time, climate disasters occurring across continents have triggered a fear of imminent ecological disaster. These worldwide events once again reminded us of what the global commons ought to be. However, the geopolitical landscape is still immersed in trade wars, tech wars, zero-sum competitions, and ideological and political confrontation. Severe misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the civilizational values and cultural psychology of “the other” are constraining our ability to face existential issues of a planetary scale and obstructing our capacity to solve these problems.

The Berggruen Institute and Caixin Media believe that global cooperation must be based on a mutual understanding of the development trajectories and values of the world’s major civilizations.

The Global Thinkers Series invites thinkers who have deep insights into the evolution of different civilizations and the grand narratives of world history to share their knowledge and wisdom. It is hoped that with strengthened understanding and trust between different civilizations, we can help remove the intolerance, arrogance, and misunderstanding that has come to characterize contemporary geopolitics.



composed by Arswain
machine learning consultation by Anna Tskhovrebov
commissioned by the Berggruen Institute
premiered at the Bradbury Building
downtown Los Angeles
april 22, 2022

Human perception of what sounds “beautiful” is necessarily biased and exclusive. If we are to truly expand our hearing apparatus, and thus our notion of beauty, we must not only shed preconceived sonic associations but also invite creative participation from beings non-human and non-living. We must also begin to cede creative control away from ourselves and toward such beings by encouraging them to exercise their own standards of beauty and collaborate with each other.

Movement I: Alarm Call
‘Alarm Call’ is a long-form composition and sound collage that juxtaposes, combines, and manipulates alarm calls from various human, non-human, and non-living beings. Evolutionary biologists understand the alarm call to be an altruistic behavior between species, who, by warning others of danger, place themselves by instinct in a broader system of belonging. The piece poses the question: how might we hear better to broaden and enhance our sense of belonging in the universe? Might we behave more altruistically if we better heed the calls of – and call out to – non-human beings?

Using granular synthesis, biofeedback, and algorithmic modulation, I fold the human alarm call – the siren – into non-human alarm calls, generating novel “inter-being” sonic collaborations with increasing sophistication and complexity. 

Movement II: A.I.-Truism
A synthesizer piece co-written with an AI in the style of Vangelis’s Blade Runner score, to pay homage to the space of the Bradbury Building.

Movement III: Alarmism
A machine learning model “learns” A.I.Truism and recreates Alarm Call, generating an original fusion of the two.

Movement IV: A.I. Call
A machine learning model “learns” Alarm Call and recreates A.I.Truism, generating an original fusion of the two.