On February 23, 2016, Peking University started its spring term with thousands of students returning to the busy campus life after the Chinese New Year Celebration. YanFu Foundation, Peking University and Beijing Sinology Institute co-hosted a grand opening ceremony to start the exhibition, “Yan Fu, Chinese Imperial Students and Royal Naval College,” at Peking University’s Library to commemorate Yan Fu. Yan Fu was one of the greatest enlightenment thinkers, educators, and translators of modern China, and was the first presidency of Peking University in 1912 after the University changed its name from Imperial University of China. Yan Fu made some significant contributions to sustain and strengthen the University in a turbulent time after the Xinhai revolution ended the Qing Dynasty in 1911.
Professor Ye Jingyi, deputy party secretary of Peking University, spoke of Yan Fu’s important contributions to, and enduring influence on, the foundation of Peking University and how his influence still inspires the new generation of students and scholars. Mr Jim Addison, education director of the British Council in China, recalled the first time he saw the Yan Fu exhibition at the Old Royal Navy College in 2015, as well as his experiences studying at Sichuan University and living around Greenwich neighbourhood before he took his current position. He also spoke highly about Chinese students’ contributions to the UK and how Yan Fu’s story symbolised the long and fruitful engagement and exchange between the two countries. Dr Kai Liu, Chairman of YanFu Foundation and the curator of the exhibition, made a speech to highlight Yan Fu’s contributions to China’s hundred year’s journey of pursuing modernization and prosperity. He is hopeful this exhibition will bring this important piece of history to life and inspire more people to promote intercultural understanding between China and the World. Dr Kai Liu was also interviewed by journalists from Xinhua News Agency, China Daily, China News Agency and Peking University’s Campus News.
The exhibition, which bears the same name, was opened by the Chinese Ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, on November 13, 2014, at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London. The same exhibition was displayed again for the 3rd UK-China high level People-to-People Dialogue on September 17, 2015, with the presence of Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong and over 50 British and Chinese government ministers, to discuss important bilateral collaborations in the areas of culture, education, media, sports and public health.
In October 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s paid his first state visit to the UK in 10 years’ time. He mentioned Yan Fu’s two translated works – “Wealth of Nations” and “Evolution and Ethics” – in Queen Elizabeth II’s welcoming banquet and praised those translated works as the works “opened up new horizons for the Chinese intellectual field.” The exhibition at Peking University was significantly updated with new materials based on the previous version and will exhibit at Peking University between February 23 to March 6, 2016.