Country for PR: China
Contributor: Xinhua News Agency
Monday, November 28 2022 - 18:04
Hehe culture in Taizhou: Why a coastal city's harmony-centered philosophy can resonate beyond China
TAIZHOU, China, Nov. 28, 2022 /Xinhua-AsiaNet/--

Chinese people highly advocate peace and harmony.

This is probably the biggest impression many foreigners have of the Chinese 
social philosophy. It is true that the Chinese people have always promoted 
peaceful coexistence, which is the centerpiece of China's diplomacy. 

Besides harmony, in an era of increasing globalization, China is also promoting 
integrated development, and "pursuing common development in harmony".  

The term is made up by two Chinese characters with the same pronunciation "He", 
but their meanings differ. The former refers to harmony, peace, neutralization, 
etc., emphasizing the harmony and coexistence among many elements. The latter 
means convergence, integration, union, etc., pointing to the cooperation and 
integration between individuals. In short, the Hehe culture means seeking 
common ground while reserving differences, harmonious coexistence and 
coordinated development.

Hehe, a term that shines brilliantly in contemporary times, is not a new idea 
after the establishment of the People's Republic of China. In fact, it has a 
history of thousands of years, and one of its important birthplaces is Taizhou, 
a coastal city in eastern China.

In Taizhou's Tiantai Mountain, surrounded by mountains on three sides and 
facing the sea on one side, three different philosophical schools, 
Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, have learned from and blended with each 
other since ancient times, forming a unique scene of cultural harmony.

The representative figures of Hehe culture lived in Taizhou. In Tiantai County, 
one can easily spot the picture of the Hehe Gods, which includes a person 
holding lotus flowers and another with a treasure box. The picture showcases 
the cherished friendship of mutual respect and love as well as harmonious 

The archetypes of Hehe gods are Han Shanzi, a hermit poet who lived in 
seclusion on Tiantai Mountain in the Tang Dynasty, and Shi De, a monk from 
Guoqing Temple. More than 1,200 years ago, the two men developed brotherly 
friendship with many touching poems and legends. During the reign of Emperor 
Yongzheng of the Qing Dynasty, they were named Hehe Gods, which later became 
the symbol of the Hehe culture. 

Hehe culture's presence in Taizhou is not only about a long history and a 
famous legend, but also could be found in nearly every aspect of this eastern 
coastal city's economic, social and ecological governance. Hehe culture is the 
underlying secret recipe for Taizhou's development achievements.

In addition to the hometown of Chinese Hehe culture, Taizhou is also widely 
known as the birthplace of China's joint-stock cooperative system.

Thanks to Taizhou's inclusive business environment, private firms from all 
walks of life are blossoming here. They co-exist and thrive together, and seek 
deeper integration with the international market. 

Taizhou's enterprises have the top market share in 307 product segments at home 
and abroad, creating 21 industrial clusters with output value exceeding 10 
billion yuan, such as automobile manufacturing, medicine and health, sewing 
equipment, plastic molds, pumps and motors.
Taizhou boasts a beautiful scenery. The Hehe-culture-based ecological 
development philosophy of promoting harmony between humankind and nature and 
"lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets" goes deep into the 
city's urban construction and sustainable development.

The city has rolled out the country's first urban green building special plan, 
which includes green buildings as a rigid requirement in land transfer, project 
approval, real estate sales and other links of urban development.

By uniting with neighboring cities, Taizhou has established the rural tourism 
development alliance, which includes 264 villages on city and county borders 
and 34 island villages. The alliance seeks to achieve common prosperity through 
co-developing rural tourism.

It is precisely because of its vibrant economy, beautiful and livable 
ecological environment and harmonious and simple social customs that Taizhou 
has been rated as one of the happiest cities in China six times.

Hehe culture has become a pillar philosophy in guiding Taizhou's development. 
It serves to help locals to achieve common prosperity, coordinate material and 
cultural-ethical advancement, facilitate harmony between humanity and nature, 
and nurture a peaceful and harmonious society. 
In recent years, Taizhou has increased the international exchanges of Hehe 
culture. In the past three years, the city has carried out more than 20 
official cultural exchanges with South Korea, the United States, Japan, Canada 
and other countries. The Canada Hehe Culture Research Association has been 
established in Canada, and international centers on Hehe culture have been set 
up in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and Japan's Tokyo.

The second Global Forum on Hehe Culture is being held in Tiantai County from 
November 28 to 30 with a theme on Hehe culture and global common development. 
Building on last year's attempt in this field, the forum once again discusses 
how Hehe culture can provide ideas and enlightenment for the common development 
of the world facing the new situation. 

"Men ask the way to Cold Mountain. Cold Mountain: there's no through trail." 
These lines are from a poem by Han Shanzi, one of the two Hehe Gods. Amazingly, 
they appeared in U.S. writer Charles Frazier's famous novel Cold Mountain 
published in 1997, over a thousand years later.

In fact, Han Shanzi, living as a recluse in the Tiantai Mountain of Taizhou, 
inspired the cultural movements in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s, 
and was honored as the "Great Zen poet" in Japan, whose poems were later spread 
to Europe. 

Likewise, Hehe culture, also once nurtured on the Tiantai Mountain, is expected 
to find its way into more countries and regions, with its life rich in Chinese 
wisdom resonating widely.

Source: Global Communication Center of Hehe Culture

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   Caption: Guoqing Temple in Taizhou's Tiantai County

Guoqing Temple.jpg