China & Greece Civilizational Dialogue: The Tsinghua-Laskaridis Fellowships


On the 6th of October 2015 the representative of the School of Social Sciences professor Shi Zhiqin and the president of the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation Mr. Panos Laskaridis signed a donation and cooperation agreement with the Laskaridis foundation observed by Professor Zhang Lihua: the director of the Research Center for China-EU Relations, professor Wang Xiaochao: the Director of the Center of Religion and Ethics, Dr. Cher Lai: Post Doctoral Fellow at Tsinghua University and Mr. Vasilis Trigkas: research fellow at the Research Center for China-EU Relations of Tsinghua University.

The ceremony took place at the headquarters of the foundation in the Piraeus port of Athens and attendees included senior diplomats, politicians, scholars and former EU commissioners.  During the event Professor Wang Xiaochao also presented the Chinese version of Constantine Staiko’s book on the Library of Plato and the Platonic Academy.

The Tsinghua-Laskaridis Initiative will provide a series of fellowships named after Marilena Laskaridis to Chinese students to visit Greece, learn the Greek language and engage in research with partner Greek institutions. Every year round table discussions will be hosted in Beijing or Athens and researchers from China, Greece, Europe, the United States and the world will engage in a civilizational dialogue utilizing the merit of the Classics to bridge misperception and creatively shape an inclusive forma mentis. The fellowship will also invite MIT and Pacific Forum CSIS researchers to visit Tsinghua and interact with Chinese researchers further cultivating a cosmopolitan and international outlook. Mr. James Wang (founder of the Tsinghua Hypatia Student Association of Classics) and Ms. Meicen Sun (MIT presidential fellow) sent video greetings highlighting the Greek architecture of Tsinghua’s and MIT’s emblematic buildings and arguing for the comprehensive moral advice that the classics of China and Greece offer to modernity. 

The partnership between Tsinghua University and the Laskaridis foundation is the first ever collaboration of Tsinghua with a Greek based institution. The initiative was spearheaded by Mr. Vasilis Trigkas – a Greek Doctoral Candidate at Tsinghua University and Alexandra Vouvousiras (a distinguished Historian & Archaeologist).  Mr. Trigkas who is also a Young Leader for Pacific Forum CSIS has long argued that the civilizational partnership between China and Greece creates positive externalities for the world to engage in a serious dialogue on the ideals that have shaped global civilization and tame misperceptions between the East and the West. This year’s event is a follow up to the 2014 Silk Road event hosted in Athens and organized under the aegis of AHEPA and the intellectual guidance of Professor Alexandra Vouvoussiras to honor Professor Zhang Lihua.

Later on the 7th of October 2015, the Chinese mission was accepted by the president of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos who expressed his keen interest in the initiative and hoped that the project will evolve into a Chair of Classical and Greek studies in Tsinghua. The president thanked the Chinese mission and highlighted the work of professor Wang Xiaochao on Platonism and the Classics of Greece. The Chinese mission invited the president to deliver a speech at Tsinghua University during his 2016 official visit to China.