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European Union

The EU supports the EU-China Forum on Cultural Misunderstandings, including this digital platform. The Forum is an initiative led by the EU Delegation in China with the objective of contributing to fill the existing perceptual gap on key concepts between Europe and China and constitute a formal corpus of major conceptual misunderstandings in the EU-China relations through the design of a methodical guide to handle and solve these misunderstandings.

The EU-China Partnership Facility (ECPF) is a project commissioned by the EU. Its aim is to reinforce EU-China cooperation on a wide range of issues of global relevance and encourage greater convergence between the EU and China on priority matters, while increasing awareness of EU policies in China. ECPF supports the Forum with financial management, contracting and logistical tasks.

The Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is tasked by the ECPF to develop the overall strategy and methodology of the Forum and to follow up on its implementation. It consists of four members: Dr. Huang Ping and Professor Zhao TingYang, leading members of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) as well as Dr. Alain Le Pichon, a French anthropologist and co-founder of Transcultura and Professor Tinka Reichmann, professor for translation science at the University of Leipzig. Other tasks of the Steering Committee include the selection of keywords for EU-China Dictionary of Misunderstandings, the selection and guidance of authors and setting agendas and objectives for the events.

Associated organizations

The international institute Transcultura was created by Umberto Eco and Alain le Pichon in 1988 on the occasion of the 900th anniversary of the University of Bologna. A French association recognised as being of public utility, Transcultura’s mission is to promote reciprocal anthropology in order to renew the conceptual field of human sciences, which is still limited by the context of Western cultures. Transcultura is thus at the origin of the project of a ‘Dictionary of Misunderstandings’ between China and Europe.

Cent Mille Milliards

Cent Mille Milliards publishes about ten titles a year in all fields, from fiction (novels, stories, etc.) to essays (politics, business, society, etc.). A publisher of its time, Cent Mille Milliards relies on new technologies to bring content to its audiences. Books are printed on demand and delivery is made within 48 hours by Hachette Livre Distribution. This is the best way to meet the challenges of the early 21st century and an essential asset for environmental protection by reducing the carbon footprint. Cent Mille Milliards has been mandated by the ECPF to host this platform in order to facilitate exchanges between the authors for the Forum.

This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified) French

Nicolas Chapuis, Ambassador of the European Union to China

Mutual understanding is the foundation of international relations. If globalization leads us to use a common lexicon, we often tend to forget that meanings differ from one culture to the other. Lack of understanding or, sometimes, confusion in meaning, breaks communication.

When China speaks in a foreign language, it uses a lexicon that is more often than never not on par with its own history and culture. It uses words to which it may assign, consciously or unconsciously, different meanings. No dialogue can be effective if interlocutors disagree on the very meaning of what they say to each other.

More than 2000 years ago, Confucius noted the imperative “to assign proper meanings to concepts”, zheng ming 正名. That is precisely what this digital platform offers by attempting to bridge the gap of cultural differences, while respecting the essential value of cultural diversity without falling in the trap of cultural relativism. This initiative aims thus to confront key concepts between Europe and China by designing a methodical guide to handle and solve eventual misunderstandings.

Remarkably, the origin of this project stems back to the 1980’s when a number of dialogues contributed to create a trustworthy network of scholars in Europe and in China. With the renewed support of the European Union, the ‘EU-China Forum on Cultural Misunderstandings’ gathers a group of high level European and Chinese intellectuals who share the awareness that cultural misunderstandings impede mutual comprehension and positive interactions between the EU and China at all levels.

The digital platform ambitions to be a constant, accessible and tangible instrument for uploading contributions and conducting initial debates in preparation of the November 2021 Forum.

The contributions of all participating authors will be included in the EU-China Dictionary of Misunderstandings, published digitally and eventually also in a physical form. It intends to be a meaningful, scientific and literate instrument for the benefit of mutual understanding between Europe and China.

It is certainly my hope that this editorial project of a Europe-China Dictionary of Misunderstandings may constitute a reference tool for further research and exchanges.


Nicolas Chapuis
Ambassador of the European Union to the People’s Republic of China 
May 2021

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