Dengfeng, Henan Province, China: International City of Peace
We welcome the citizens of Dengfeng in Henan Province, China as they establish their community as an International City of Peace. Below is described many aspects of the City and its people as well as goals to achieve their extensive City of Peace vision.
In ancient times, Dengfeng it was known as Yangcheng. Today it has a population of over 600,000. Located at the foot of the Mount Song, one of the most sacred mountains in China, Dengfeng is a renowned spiritual center of China. It is home to various religious institutions and famous temples such as the Taoist Zhongyue Temple, the Buddhist Shaolin Temple, the Confucian Songyang Academy and the Gaocheng Observatory. Dengfeng is described as the spiritual “center of heaven and earth”, an expression derived from Chinese literature.
NOTE: The information included here is primarily at the time of joining International Cities of Peace. For updates, please contact the liaison.
Below is an excerpt of interesting areas of Dengfeng history and legacy of peacemaking. Download a copy of the full Report below:Application191123
The “Songshan Culture,” with Dengfeng as its core, embodies the developmental essence of peace and inclusivity. Within Dengfeng’s territory, Songshan, known as Zhongyue, is one of the first designated UNESCO Global Geoparks. The historic monuments of Dengfeng in “the Centre of Heaven and Earth” are UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites, and the 24 Solar Terms are recognized as part of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. These designations, made by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), hold universal significance and value for all of humanity. They also reflect the prominent characteristics of Chinese civilization, including continuity, innovation, inclusiveness, unity, and peace.
Songshan Culture is highly inclusive and has never been exclusionary or hostile towards others. Over the course of five millennia, the civilization in the Songshan region has emphasized the coexistence and organic integration of advanced elements from various neighboring cultures. It is precisely because of its rich diversity that it has endured to the present day. From the 2nd century BC, the Chinese nation began to embrace Indian Buddhist culture and incorporate Gandharan art from Europe. This marked the opening of a significant avenue for material and cultural exchange—the ancient Silk Road. After the Sui and Tang dynasties, religions such as Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam gradually entered China, and were welcomed with a peaceful attitude.
Gate of Shaolin Temple, Dengfeng
Dengfeng Songshan World Geopark
“Songshan Culture” embodies the wisdom and mechanisms of the Chinese nation in reconciling different conflicts and solving various problems.
The political mechanism exemplified by the spirit of Dayu, which prioritizes the common good and employs adaptive governance based on prevailing circumstances. Dayu, born in Songshan, managed to tame the floods by dredging water channels, dedicating 13 years of hard work to the task. It was said that during this period of time, he passed by his house three times but never went inside. This political thinking prioritizes the common good over personal interests and adapts to changing circumstances, reflecting a mindset conducive to achieving peace.
The prayer mechanism represented by worshiping gods and praying for blessings in Chongfu Temple. The wish for peace is arguably one of the most fundamental among many beautiful aspirations. Within the territory of Dengfeng, Chongfu Temple was a place where the Northern Song Dynasty’s princes and renowned scholars of the time prayed for the emperor’s blessings. Similarly, Jerusalem, known as the international city of peace, is home to the wailing wall and the Temple Mount, the Stations of the Cross and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It’s a place where millions of believers find solace in their faith and pray for a better future, making it a holy city in the hearts of people in the Western world. Similarly, from the Western Han Dynasty to the Jin and Yuan Dynasties, Chongfu Temple at the base of the Wansui Peak in Songshan Mountain has always been a place where the imperial family, eminent monks and Taoist sages, and renowned scholars prayed for the well-being of the people. They prayed for heavenly blessings, abundant harvests, longevity, and peace, keeping alive the aspirations of countless Chinese people for a better life.
Dengfeng Chongfu Palace
There are many cultural heritages embodying “positive peace” in Dengfeng
At the foot of Songshan Mountain, Songyang Academy, Zhongyue Temple, and Shaolin Temple are excellent representatives of this heritage. They represent a cultural panorama where Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism coexist harmoniously, which is in the same line with the thought of “the Great Harmony of the World”. Confucianism advocates “harmony in diversity” and seeks harmony for coexistence and growth. Daoism strives for harmony between man and nature, man and society, individuals with one another, and harmony within a person’s body and mind. Buddhism is self-benefiting and altruistic, aiming to purify personal souls and the living environment of the community to achieve harmony in interpersonal relationships. There are many other similar cultural relics as well, such as the three Han Que gates, which recorded cultural exchanges between the Roman Empire and the Eastern Han Dynasty over 1,900 years ago. The Songyue Pagoda, built 1500 years ago, is an exemplary fusion of diverse civilizations from ancient India, Persia, the Western Regions, and China. The Ming Dynasty iron-cast bell at the Huishan Temple, inscribed with the names of merit donors, embodies the profound symbolism of different believers praying to build and share a better world with benevolent intentions, offering a perfect interpretation of the phrase “Hui Shan”.
Descendants of the Eighth Route Army of the Anti-Japanese War in western Henan revisited Dengfeng
Dengfeng’s current peace efforts
Shaolin Kungfu has made an important contribution to peace efforts Shaolin Kung Fu, originating from the fusion of Buddhist and traditional Chinese cultures, is a testament to the exchange of cultures between China and the world. The characteristics of Songshan culture, “harmony in diversity” and “coexistence in harmony”, are consistently demonstrated. In this process, Shaolin Kung Fu has overcome language barriers, navigated ideological and cultural differences, and effectively bridged the gaps between different civilizations, races, and religions in over 100 countries across six continents. The Shaolin Kung Fu performers have received high recognition from prominent figures such as Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, former IOC President Rogge, former U.S. Secretary of State Kissinger, and others, making a positive contribution to the construction of a community with a shared future for humanity.
The “Songshan Forum” has become an important platform for dialogue among world civilizations
Leaders and guests attending the 2013 Songshan Forum on Chinese and World Civilization
The Songshan Forum is currently the longest-running high-level international cultural forum in China. Each year, it invites domestic and international political figures and experts to participate. Centered around themes like the dialogue between Chinese civilization and world civilizations, the forum provides a platform for dialogue to collectively build a peaceful world and engage in exchanges between world civilizations. It has achieved numerous fruitful outcomes. Since 2012, the forum has been continuously held for 11 consecutive sessions, during which more than 500 experts and scholars from different countries have contributed their reflections in different ways to addressing current global challenges and exploring future directions for humanity. The forum has established a valuable platform for dialogue between world civilizations, opening the door to multi-level and multi-dimensional dialogues between tradition and modernity, China and the West, science and religion, as well as between genders, classes, regions and countries, and enhancing mutual understanding among peoples. The forum advocates for the “heart of benevolence” in dealing with all things in the world, promoting dialogue between civilizations, eliminating estrangement and misunderstandings, strengthening and safeguarding common human values, and striving for an ideal world where “all under heaven returns to benevolence.” It has played a significant role in representing China’s voice, promoting global peace and stability, and advancing the progress and development of all humankind. Through joint efforts in organizing international peace forums and high-level international peace academic symposia, the Songshan Mountain Forum has contributed to the construction of Dengfeng as an international peace city by creating a top-notch international academic platform for peace studies.
Dengfeng community residents make sachets to pray for peace and happiness during Dragon Boat Festival
The joining of Dengfeng as a member of the International Peace Cities Alliance will show the world more about the east. It is an international platform for China’s famous historical and cultural cities and tourist cities to spread their pursuit of peace, arousing people’s reflection on history and culture and real development. That strengthens the peace force and encourages exchanges and dialogues between different civilizations.
To this end, we will courageously undertake the following missions:
First, we will better protect the common heritage of mankind. The Songshan Mountain in Dengfeng is one of the first batch of world geological parks, which shows the geological evolution of the earth over the past 3.6 billion years. It can be called an encyclopedia of geology shared by all mankind. The “Center of Heaven and Earth” is a historical building complex with a total of 11 items in 8 sections. As China’s 39th world cultural heritage, it presented the Chinese people’s effort and achievements in development, unity, resolution of conflicts, and achieving consensus for at least two thousand years. That has important reference significance for the peaceful development among different civilizations today. The twenty-four solar terms formed in Dengfeng are the intangible cultural heritage of mankind, embodying the scientific spirit of ancient China. It is important to farming work in China. It helps improve agricultural harvest greatly, influences the Chinese people’s health concept and enriches the Chinese festival customs. Shaolin Kung Fu, China’s national intangible cultural heritage, is the most vivid and intuitive cultural image of Chinese people in the eyes of people worldwide. It embodies the new religious philosophy with the combination of Indian Buddhist culture and Chinese culture. It reflects Chinese people’s opinions on desires, confusion, and violence. These precious heritages include a mountain with a main distribution area of more than 150 square kilometers and 367 historical buildings of different eras built from various materials from 118 AD to 1942. We have the responsibility and confidence to protect them well.
Second, we will improve the interpretation of Songshan culture and show it to world. Songshan culture is mainly composed of ideas and concepts. It is a living, diverse and peaceful culture that has universal significance to mankind. In the process of excavation, sorting out, inheritance and utilization, we should be neither imposing nor self-admiring and self-indulgent. Everyone likes beautiful things. We have the responsibility to make Songshan culture more beautiful. We will always insist on communicating with others with an equal attitude and in the international language. We will show our culture peacefully, and learn from each other with an inclusive attitude. We will show our culture proactively, and listen to others with humility and peace. We will help spread good cultural philosophy and resolutely put an end to self-enclosure, self-indulgence, and arrogance. We do not agree with blind worship, copinism, and self-deprecation.
Third, we will commit to the international exchange and dissemination of the culture of peace. Dengfeng is a mountain city located in the inland of China, but it has convenient transportation and beautiful scenery. It is also a city with more successful international exchanges among the county-level cities in China. Generally, more than 500,000 foreign tourists come here every year. And many countries’ overseas training bases of martial arts sports centers are established here, such as Malaysia and Indonesia. The International Shaolin Wushu Festival held every two years usually attracts thousands of martial arts athletes from more than 100 countries and regions. The permanent site of the Songshan Forum that focuses on exchanges and mutual learning between different civilizations of mankind is located here, attracting scholars who are committed to peace and exchanges of civilizations from dozens of countries in the world. The permanent venue of the International Mayor’s Forum on Tourism is set in Zhengzhou, where mayors from many tourist cities around the world will come here during the event. The Shaolin Temple has also held the International Buddhist and Medicine Forum, the Global Shaolin Kung Fu Examination Conference, the national-scale debate, and the Zen Chess Conference. We will make good use of these international and domestic events to spread the culture and concept of peace. Every year, we celebrate the International Day of Peace on September 21, the World Tourism Day on September 27, the National Day of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, and the incoming Mid-Autumn Festival. We integrate Dengfeng’s tourism industry with the promotion of peace and the display of peace achievements, to promote the development of cultural tourism and spread the international concept of peace.
Fourth, we will help more tourist cities develop into international cities of peace. The concept of peace should be continuously inherited and carried forward, and peaceful actions also need to be spread among different cities. We will make good use of Dengfeng’s advantages and influence in China’s cultural tourism industry to spread the significance of building an international city of peace and inherit the concept of cherishing peace, allowing more cities in China, especially historical and cultural cities and world tourism cities, to understand peace, support peace, and share peace, encouraging them to join the International Peace Cities Alliance so as to grow the force of peace.
Fifth, we will do a good job in peace education to foster the awareness of peace of young people. We will actively interact with primary and secondary school students, and carry out peace education courses in more primary and secondary schools. We oppose the mind of indifference, the Cold War, confrontation and bullying, so that the concept of peace can be deeply rooted in people’s mind, cultivating successors to the cause of peace.
Sixth, we will actively carry out research and strive for the teaching chair of “Kung Fu and Peace” for local colleges and universities. China’s peaceful rise is not a threat to other countries. The fierce and bravery Shaolin Kung Fu is not formed for the admiration of violence and wanton bullying of others. There are more and more countries and cities in the world support the construction of Shaolin Cultural Center, which fully proves that people have a strong pursuit of true peace, true communication, and true kindness. In Dengfeng, there are currently 22 schools, with more than 100,000 students enrolled, who come from all over the world. In their daily practice and training, people are increasingly aware of the wisdom contained in Shaolin Kung Fu, which is a Chinese plan to stop violence and confrontation and is also an important way for people to overcome themselves and improve themselves. More and more entrepreneurs around the world are absorbing wisdom and nutrition from meditation and Kung Fu and cultivating positive concepts, which have significantly improved their personal health and career development. Therefore, we will organize universities and martial arts education departments in Dengfeng to carry out in-depth research on “Kung Fu and Peace” and strive to set up a teaching chair here.
With a beautiful vision and a historical mission, we have set our own goals in the face of such a meaningful event as building an international city of peace:
The first is to continue to do a good job in the protection and inheritance of human heritage. We will have more than 500 tour guides and commentators in Dengfeng understand the peace culture and city of peace, and encourage them to devote themselves to the promotion of the concept of peace. At the same time, we make full use of media channels to promote the international city of peace and the significance of maintaining world peace among Dengfeng’s 730,000 citizens and millions of tourists every year.
The second is to select one primary school and one secondary school in Dengfeng, and carry out courses concerning peace in three classes. We will train some volunteers to promote the concept of peace to family members, friends and classmates. In three to five years, the peace course will be gradually extended to most campuses in Dengfeng.
The third is to set up “Kung Fu and Peace” professorships recognized by the United Nations in colleges and universities in Dengfeng.
The fourth is to set peace study topics at major festivals and large-scale international and domestic forums every year, and invite experts and scholars with wide influence to deliver speeches at the conference no less than three times a year.
Fifth, we will actively advocate peace and help more tourist cities to join the International Peace Cities Alliance. We will use three to five years to help more cities across China to become international cities of peace.
LETTER OF INTENTION
ABOUT THE LIAISON
Mr. Liu Haiqin is of Han nationality, member of the Communist Party of China, member of the National Martial Arts Eighth Section, representative and executive member of the Dengfeng Municipal People’s Congress, and chairman of Zhengzhou Shaolin Tagou Education Group.
Liu Haiqin comes from a martial arts family and has been practicing Shaolin martial arts with his father since childhood, gaining a deep understanding of traditional martial arts techniques. He attaches great importance to the cultural teaching and comprehensive quality education of the group, strengthens students’ cultural knowledge learning, and promotes cultural and martial education to keep pace and complement each other.
To further promote Shaolin martial arts, Liu Haiqin participated in organizing large-scale events such as the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics, the opening ceremony of the Zhengzhou International Shaolin Martial Arts Festival, and the opening ceremony of the Guangzhou Asian Games.
For many years, Liu Haiqin has attached great importance to his own learning and theoretical research. He has published more than ten papers, including “Chinese Martial Arts and Chinese Culture” and “On Martial Moral Education in the Process of Modernization”. His co authored “Integration of Traditional Shaolin Martial Arts Routines” was awarded the first prize for science popularization works in Henan Province.
Due to his outstanding achievements, Liu Haiqin has successively won the honorary titles of “Henan Youth May 4th Medal”, “Henan Top Ten Outstanding Youth”, “exemplary individual of Wushu Work in Henan Province”, “Top Ten News Figures in Zhengzhou City”, “Top Professional and Technical Talents in Zhengzhou City”, “Outstanding Private Education Figures in Zhengzhou City”, “Top Professional and Technical Talents in Dengfeng City”, and “Outstanding Principal of Dengfeng City”.
In 2014, he was awarded the title of “Private Education Expert” by the Education Commission of Henan Province for Private Education and Henan Private Education Research Association. In 2017, he was awarded the title of “Shaolin Wushu Master” and “Top Ten News Figures of Henan Private Education”. In 2018, he was awarded the title of “exemplary individual of Private Education” by Henan Private Education Research Association and “Outstanding Person of Zhengzhou Private Education” by Zhengzhou Municipal Education Bureau.
To contact or support this initiative:
Address：Songshan Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School，Dengfeng 452470，China
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