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    Our Water: Inspiration Flows at Paris Forum

    Experts gathered beside the Seine to offer their insights on opportunities for China-France cooperation as part of Shanghai’s cultural exchange campaign.

    Artists, experts, and business leaders converged on the Palais Brongniart, on the banks of the Seine, for the Paris Forum on April 18 to explore cultural exchanges and shared development opportunities between China and France. The forum is part of the inaugural season of Shanghai’s five-year “Our Water” campaign.

    Under the theme of “Our Water, To a Boundless Future,” the event featured keynote speeches and roundtable discussions on such areas as the humanities, arts, finance, and trade, all against the backdrop of the humanistic connection between Shanghai’s Suzhou Creek and the Seine in Paris.

    Chen Jialing, an acclaimed ink artist and professor at the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, took part in an engaging talk with Eric Lefebvre, director of the Musée Cernuschi, about his sources of inspiration and the use of water as a theme in his recent exhibition at the Réfectoire des Cordelier in Paris.

    The first roundtable, which centered on “Rivers, the Source of Inspiration for Cities,” saw Yuan Xiaoyi, director of East China Normal University’s Si-Mian Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities, speak on the significance of flowing rivers in literary imagery, while Liu Shilin, director of the Institute of Urban Science at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, offered insights on the cultural and ecological transformations that have taken place in Shanghai and Paris along their respective waterways.

    Myriam Kryger, former cultural attaché at the French Consulate General in Shanghai and the curator of this year’s “Our Water,” also shared her memories of China’s eastern metropolis, followed by Andre Cointreau, president and CEO of Le Cordon Bleu, an international network of culinary schools, who gave forum attendees a true taste of the city through its cuisine.

    The second roundtable, themed “Dialogue Between Two Rivers — Innovation Without Boundaries,” brought together representatives from Chinese and French enterprises and waterfront development organizations to discuss international economic and trade cooperation. Discussions focused on topics including innovative opportunities for the French hotel industry in the Chinese market, exporting China’s traditional silk craftsmanship, and how the art trade can promote cultural exchanges.

    Talk also turned to the Suhewan Functional Zone in Shanghai’s Jing’an District and La Défense business district in Paris, with both seen as key bases for urban renewal, low-carbon sustainable development, and industrial innovation.

    Our Water: Flowing from Shanghai — Intercultural Dialogues Among World Cities, an international platform to promote urban cultural exchanges and cooperation, opened in Paris on April 5. Events include “Merveilleux Jardins de Jiangnan,” an exhibition of China’s Jiangnan garden architecture and aesthetics, the art show “Chen Jialing: Une Vie au Bord du Fleuve” (A Life By the River), and “A Bite of Shanghai,” which looks at the history of Shanghai’s traditional cuisine. A series of similar activities focusing on French culture were held in Shanghai late last year.

    In addition to the upcoming Paris Olympics, 2024 marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France.

    A version of this article originally appeared in The Paper. It has been translated and edited for brevity and clarity, and is republished here with permission.

    Translator: Eunice Ouyang; editors: Xue Ni and Hao Qibao.

    Sponsored content by Sixth Tone × Our Water