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position: EnglishChannel > Experts in China > Article

Understanding China Through Its Culture

Source: Science and Technology Daily | 2024-05-31 10:56:15 | Author: LONG Yun & BI Weizi

By LONG Yun & BI Weizi


Professor Evandro Menezes de Carvalho. (COURTESY PHOTO)

In February 2013, Brazilian international law professor Evandro Menezes de Carvalho was one of the 10 foreign scholars selected for a joint cultural project between China and the Organization of American States. It was his first time visiting China and he had no idea how much the trip would profoundly shape the course of his life. Since then, "See China with your own eyes" has become his default advice to foreign friends.

Bridging cultures

In 2015, Carvalho embarked on a collaboration with the China International Publishing Group, assisting in the launch, publication, and distribution of the Portuguese version of China Today magazine in Brazil. He assumed the role of executive editor for the magazine, using language to facilitate mutual understanding between people from China and Brazil.

When discussing how to enhance Brazilian readers' understanding of China and its culture, Carvalho said comprehension of ancient culture is the way to go.

"China, with its vast territory and diverse population made up of 56 ethnic groups, each with its own unique culture, presents an intriguing multifaceted perception."

He believes the way for Brazilians to connect with Chinese culture is through the country's traditions. "Chinese opera, traditional paintings, calligraphy, philosophy, and tea ceremonies all contribute to Brazilians' appreciation of Chinese culture," he said.

Yet, Carvalho also highlighted the charm of modern China, particularly through art exhibitions, contemporary music, bands, and singers, in cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

"This contemporary scene blends traditional elements with modern tastes, creating a unique fusion that captivates visitors," he said.

Furthermore, Carvalho said Chinese cuisine is another important window into the country's cultural heritage. This outlook serves as the main driver for his chosen topics in the magazine's content.

Blazing trails

In 2017, Carvalho established the Center for Brazil-China Studies at the Getulio Vargas Foundation School of Law, pioneering Brazil's first law courses focusing on China. These courses are dedicated to academic research in international law, BRICS, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

According to Carvalho, the significance of these initiatives in fostering international cooperation and development cannot be overstated.

Since the end of World War II, developing countries, or what we now call the Global South, have expected greater participation in international organizations. They want to have a role in the decision-making process wielded by powerful countries in shaping global policies. However, this expectation has not been met. The formation of BRICS is a direct response to this situation.

In his recent lectures, Carvalho contrasts Western logic, which he says is based on Shakespearean notions of "to be or not to be," with China's thinking patterns that underline inclusion and mutual learning.

He said China's active and inclusive foreign policy is highlighted by President Xi Jinping continually introducing new concepts and initiatives to strengthen multilateralism. "The BRI is the most prominent example," said Carvalho.

"It not only embodies the concept of a global community with a shared future, but also translates this concept into concrete action," he said, referring to the BRI's role in fostering integration and people-to-people exchanges.

From his professional perspective, BRICS, the BRI and the concept of a global community with a shared future offer an avenue for multilateralism rooted in Confucian principles, signaling a new era of international cooperation and exchange.

Continuing endeavors

Carvalho, like many others, found himself working from home between 2020 to 2022. This shift provided him with the opportunity to dedicate more time to reading classic works of Chinese literature, philosophy, and history. In his home in Rio de Janeiro, he even established a personal library focused on China studies.

"Exploring traditional Chinese culture, particularly through its philosophical thinking patterns, has deeply influenced my understanding of China," said Carvalho, adding that this literary exploration allows him to gain more insights into behaviors, problem-solving methods, and social interactions.

In his writing, Carvalho tries to emphasize the value of Chinese culture in comprehending various aspects of modern China, including its political and legal systems, as well as its contemporary cultural dynamics. He noted the tendency for Western perceptions of China to be clouded by stereotypes, and a Cold War mentality when criticizing contemporary China.

As the country undergoes rapid transformation and technological advancements, Carvalho said that studying its philosophical heritage becomes increasingly crucial in knowing its future developments and innovations.

He participated in the translation of the Portuguese version of the fourth volume of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, and the experience, he said, deepened his understanding of China's governance, particularly its concept of rule of law.

Carvalho remains actively engaged in promoting Sino-Brazilian cultural exchanges, pioneering innovative initiatives. In early 2024, ChinaPod, a Portuguese podcast series Carvalho hosts, was officially launched to facilitate mutual understanding between Chinese and Brazilian youth.


In February 2013, Brazilian international law professor Evandro Menezes de Carvalho was one of the 10 foreign scholars selected for a joint cultural project between China and the Organization of American States. It was his first time visiting China and he had no idea how much the trip would profoundly shape the course of his life. Since then, "See China with your own eyes" has become his default advice to foreign friends.

Bridging cultures

In 2015, Carvalho embarked on a collaboration with the China International Publishing Group, assisting in the launch, publication, and distribution of the Portuguese version of China Today magazine in Brazil. He assumed the role of executive editor for the magazine, using language to facilitate mutual understanding between people from China and Brazil.

When discussing how to enhance Brazilian readers' understanding of China and its culture, Carvalho said comprehension of ancient culture is the way to go.

"China, with its vast territory and diverse population made up of 56 ethnic groups, each with its own unique culture, presents an intriguing multifaceted perception."

He believes the way for Brazilians to connect with Chinese culture is through the country's traditions. "Chinese opera, traditional paintings, calligraphy, philosophy, and tea ceremonies all contribute to Brazilians' appreciation of Chinese culture," he said.

Yet, Carvalho also highlighted the charm of modern China, particularly through art exhibitions, contemporary music, bands, and singers, in cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

"This contemporary scene blends traditional elements with modern tastes, creating a unique fusion that captivates visitors," he said.

Furthermore, Carvalho said Chinese cuisine is another important window into the country's cultural heritage. This outlook serves as the main driver for his chosen topics in the magazine's content.

Blazing trails

In 2017, Carvalho established the Center for Brazil-China Studies at the Getulio Vargas Foundation School of Law, pioneering Brazil's first law courses focusing on China. These courses are dedicated to academic research in international law, BRICS, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

According to Carvalho, the significance of these initiatives in fostering international cooperation and development cannot be overstated.

Since the end of World War II, developing countries, or what we now call the Global South, have expected greater participation in international organizations. They want to have a role in the decision-making process wielded by powerful countries in shaping global policies. However, this expectation has not been met. The formation of BRICS is a direct response to this situation.

In his recent lectures, Carvalho contrasts Western logic, which he says is based on Shakespearean notions of "to be or not to be," with China's thinking patterns that underline inclusion and mutual learning.

He said China's active and inclusive foreign policy is highlighted by President Xi Jinping continually introducing new concepts and initiatives to strengthen multilateralism. "The BRI is the most prominent example," said Carvalho.

"It not only embodies the concept of a global community with a shared future, but also translates this concept into concrete action," he said, referring to the BRI's role in fostering integration and people-to-people exchanges.

From his professional perspective, BRICS, the BRI and the concept of a global community with a shared future offer an avenue for multilateralism rooted in Confucian principles, signaling a new era of international cooperation and exchange.

Continuing endeavors

Carvalho, like many others, found himself working from home between 2020 to 2022. This shift provided him with the opportunity to dedicate more time to reading classic works of Chinese literature, philosophy, and history. In his home in Rio de Janeiro, he even established a personal library focused on China studies.

"Exploring traditional Chinese culture, particularly through its philosophical thinking patterns, has deeply influenced my understanding of China," said Carvalho, adding that this literary exploration allows him to gain more insights into behaviors, problem-solving methods, and social interactions.

In his writing, Carvalho tries to emphasize the value of Chinese culture in comprehending various aspects of modern China, including its political and legal systems, as well as its contemporary cultural dynamics. He noted the tendency for Western perceptions of China to be clouded by stereotypes, and a Cold War mentality when criticizing contemporary China.

As the country undergoes rapid transformation and technological advancements, Carvalho said that studying its philosophical heritage becomes increasingly crucial in knowing its future developments and innovations.

He participated in the translation of the Portuguese version of the fourth volume of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, and the experience, he said, deepened his understanding of China's governance, particularly its concept of rule of law.

Carvalho remains actively engaged in promoting Sino-Brazilian cultural exchanges, pioneering innovative initiatives. In early 2024, ChinaPod, a Portuguese podcast series Carvalho hosts, was officially launched to facilitate mutual understanding between Chinese and Brazilian youth.


Editor: 龙云

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