Taiwan's 2020 Tang Prize Laureates Gather to Address Mankind's Most Urgent Challenges

September 28, 2020 - 03:43
Taiwan's 2020 Tang Prize Laureates Gather to Address Mankind's Most Urgent Challenges

TAIPEI,TAIWAN - Media OutReach - 28September 2020 - The Tang Prize Foundation joined forceswith Taiwan's National Taiwan University, National Tsing Hua University,National Cheng Kung University, National Chengchi University, the ExperimentalBiology of the US, Association for Asian Studies, and the Jane GoodallInstitute to stage four Tang Prize Masters' Forums on sustainable development,biopharmaceutical science, Sinology and the rule of law on September 21 and 22.Latest and former Tang Prize recipients, together with leading experts inTaiwan, conversed with one another and interacted with audiences viavideoconferencing to explore issues concerning ecological conservation, climatechange, autoimmune diseases, treatments for COVID-19, identity crisis facingthe Chinese overseas, the value of Chinese studies, a pluralist approach toSinology, as well as human rights and environmental justice. Two days and fouredifying conferences saw the laureates offering great insight withoutreservation, and the audiences asking thought-provoking questions without hesitation.The forum videos are available at https://reurl.cc/yg6Rv8.


To kick start the whole series, the firstforum on the rule of law, titled "Exploring the Role of Non-GovernmentalOrganizations in the Contemporary Civil Society," featured three 2020 awardees,based in Bangladesh, Colombia, and Lebanon respectively, former Tang Prizelaureates, as well as representatives of NGOs and advocates of social andenvironmental justice from Taiwan, who got together to shed light on NGOs'responsibilities and challenges, helping the audience examine this topic fromthe perspectives of people living in different parts of the world. While thelatest winners, to fulfil NGOs' duties, have all vowed to stand up for ordinarypeople, advocate necessary political reform, defend environmental justice andimprove judicial independence, they also expressed concerns about commonobstacles many NGOs encounter, such as shortage of funding and governments'attempts to curtail their capacity.      


At the second forum, titled "EcologicalConservation and Sustainable Development of Human Society: the Impact ofCOVID-19," past and present recipients of the Tang Prize in SustainableDevelopment reminded us that though the pandemic "can affect rich or pooralike, it's having a more profound effect on the poor." Unfortunately, we haveourselves to blame for the current health crisis because we disrespected thenatural world. Should we continue down this path and disregard the fact that"climate change increases the range of pathogens and the threat of infectiousdisease," it is very likely that disasters like COVID-19 will occur again.Moreover, we should not ignore the painful reality that the wealthiest 1billion people are accountable for more than 50 percent of climate pollution,but it is the poorest 3 billion who have borne the brunt of climate disruption.These laureates urged us to recognize the importance of global interdependenceand to see protecting our Mother Earth as our collective responsibility.Failing to tackle these problems collaboratively could mean "more globalwarming in the pipeline." 


Titled "Targeting the Hyperactive ImmuneSystem, from Autoimmune Disease to Cytokine Storms," the forum onbiopharmaceutical science was the third one in this series. In response to apandemic that shows no sign of abating, Tang Prize recipients not only sharedinformation about the ongoing clinical trials but also offered opinions aboutpossible combination therapies for COVID-19. On the topic of how to regulatethe immune system, the speakers stressed the importance of biologicalindividuality, while comparing the delicate balance between releasing andinhibiting our immune cells to that between yin and yang to illustrate thepoint that the optimal results of cancer treatment can be obtained only whenthis balance is achieved. Asked to give some advice to young students sittingin the auditorium, all the laureates encouraged them to commit themselves tobasic research and to stick to the project they choose. Don't be deterred bysetbacks and don't give up easily, because they never know what nature has instore for them.   


The final forum, "The High Road to PluralistSinology," began with a speech from Prof. Wang Gungwu, the latest laureate inSinology and doyen of Chinese overseas studies, in which he systematicallyanalyzed the development of Sinology and elaborated on how it has alwaysintertwined with the conflicts between Eastern and Western civilizations andwith the vicissitudes of modern China. As a subject, Sinology was not onlyenriched by the various cultural and political forces it was exposed to butalso nourished by ideas of different academic disciplines that wereincorporated into it, especially the methodologies used in social science.However, Prof. Wang alerted contemporary scholars to the sensitive anddifficult tasks they will be engaged in on this high road to pluralistSinology. To take on these challenges, he asserted, "remains an unshirkableresponsibility" for them.   


The Tang Prize Foundation endeavors to makethe world a better place and to foster universal values for a new era. Toaccomplish this mission, the Foundation organized these forums and invited itslaurates to share their inspiring stories and their deep wisdom, in the hopethat at the time when COVID-19 continues to rage across the globe and plungedevery aspect of our life into chaos, be it social, economic or environmental,the advice offered by these masters can help people develop inter-disciplinary thinkingand forward-looking vision so as to overcome the present difficulties together.


About Tang Prize

Dr. Samuel Yin, chairman of Ruentex Group,founded the Tang Prize in December of 2012 as an extension of the supreme valuehis family placed on education. Harkening back to the golden age of the TangDynasty in Chinese history, the Tang Prize seeks to be an inspiring force forpeople working in all corners of the world. For more information on the TangPrize and its laureates, please visit www.tang-prize.org