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New Paradigm and Philosophical Notion:From Contradiction, Embracing Innovation, Development To Peace

Updated: Jun 27, 2022



Keynote at UNAI-EICC Global Innovation Webinar

Fulfilling UN Mission: The Role of Innovation and Technology

Professor Richard Li-Hua

Founder and President, ELITE Innovation College Cambridge, UK

27th June, 2022



A New Paradigm for Social Progress


This keynote presents a new paradigm and a philosophical notion between contradiction, innovation, development and peace and their dialectical relation and the interrelatedness among them. In the traditional ways, it is difficult for people to identify the linkages among these concepts. According to Cambridge English Dictionary, “contradiction” means the fact of something being the complete opposite of something else or very different from something else, so that one of them must be wrong. “Innovation” means a new idea or method, or the use of new ideas and methods. “Development” means the process in which someone or something grows or changes and becomes more advanced.


“Peace” means freedom from war and violence, especially when people live and work together happily without disagreements. However, the discussion of these four distinctive concepts reveals their underpinning interrelations and complemented each other if people try to understand the issues from the angle of the transcendence of the ancient Chinese philosophy – embracing contradiction stimulates innovation, fast development while engaging innovation and development lead to peace.


Since ancient times, mankind has been longing for peace. However, the real world is full of conflicts, disasters, plagues, wars, and contradictions. How can mankind achieve peace? First of all, people generally tend to regard contradiction as problem or difficult issue and try to avoid it, if so, there is no innovation, there is no development. This paradigm urges people to deal with problem or difficult issues in the positive way, then innovation happens, and development follows. Secondly, there are plenty cases and literatures to illustrate how innovation contributes to the success of firms or institutions or countries. There are few literatures on how innovation contributing to peace. The United Nations’ mission is to maintain peace, dignity, and equality in a healthy planet. There is in fact an organic linkage between innovation and peace. Innovation, in particular, intrinsic social innovation, which delivers social and political sustainability, is a strategic instrument in creating peace. However, such an important issue has been less attended for a long time. Furthermore, this new paradigm of contradiction, innovation, development, and peace is to be explained in the book while the dimensions of China embracing innovation is further dwelled upon. And this is my book about – Myth of China’s Peaceful Rice: China Embracing Innovation – How China did it, telling China’s story theoretically. In fact, the whole book is to be extensively developed along this philosophical notion.


Zhang Zai's Superb Political Wisdom



Since the reform and opening up in 1978, China has made the progress within 40 years that many countries had taken almost a century. China’s economic reform and open and joining the WTO in 2001 has lifted over 700 million population out of poverty. China has become the second largest economy in the world. The international community uses miracles to describe China's tremendous development and achievements. China's story has attracted worldwide attention. Sharing the development experiences and innovation opportunities with the world is China’s intention and the world looks forward to it.


People of different histories, different civilizations, and different cultural backgrounds deserve to know and understand China’s story from many aspects. It is very important for the international community to have equal dialogue, friendly exchanges, live in peace and harmony with all the civilizations of the world and the friends from all walks of life, and seek common ground while maintaining differences. It is difficult to understand China’s peaceful rise without touching China’s history and Chinese civilization. What is China’s innovation model? How is China perceived in the world? What has enabled China’s peaceful rise? How seriously does covid-19 affect the human society? In this confused world people are even more confusing. These are important issues that need to be clarified in this confused and confusing world today.


In the development of modern world history, the rise of a nation-state is often inseparable from the rise of its national spirit and the rise and fall of national culture. China’s peaceful rise has been closely related with Chinese culture and the transcendence of the Chinese philosophy. Why does the Chinese civilization endure for a long time, and it will last forever? It is closely related to China's strict political and philosophical system. In Chinese history, there were countless Chinese philosophers with great wisdom. And Zhang Zai's superb political wisdom, the transcendence and uniqueness of his philosophy – embracing contradiction, made him unique. His “Creation of peace for centuries” and his call for cosmopolitanism is undoubtedly a model of Confucianism, and he was greatly admired by future generations. It is the innovative concept and enlightenment of embracing contradiction - “Hatred in the end leads to the reconciliation” that has enabled me to come out with the new paradigm of innovation and coin the terminology “China Embracing Innovation”.


China Embracing Innovation and Peace



Embracing innovation is a strategic model and a new paradigm of the wise who are seeking common development, sharing resources and a win-win solution. It is a social innovation. It refers to a novel and innovative solution to a complicated social problem. The solution is more distinctive, effective and efficient, better, equitable and sustainable than the existing approach. At the same time, it creates value for the benefit of society as a whole. The essential elements, also regarded as the four pillars of the embracing innovation theory, are as follows: a. embracing contradictions, b. heading with the times, c. seeking common ground while maintaining differences, and d. creating harmony and tolerance. These four pillars support and complement each other. China embracing innovation belongs intrinsic social innovation. Intrinsic means belonging to the essential nature and originating and included wholly within an organ.


Embracing innovation has been the key, including through accepting and reconciling contradictions where they exist between nations and peoples in an affirmed global cause. Throughout development history of mankind, Politian and leaders have used peace-making and diplomacy to establish a certain type of events, activities and behavioural restraint through the signing of various agreements or peace treaties. Such activities have helped the establishment of regional peace, national social and political stability and then the achievement of economic development growth.


Welcome and thanks


Many thanks to Ramu Damodaran, First Chief of United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) 2010-2021 who facilitated this wonderful Webinar. Welcome and thanks to all the excellent and high-profile distinguished speakers. I have looked at their topics of speech, including aspects of internationalization of higher education, digital technology and SDGs, the role of technology in furthering international relation and cooperation in GHE, youth leadership in effecting change, making sense of leadership development, which are very attractive and interesting. I look forward to sharing all these wonderful topics.


Thanks to all the participants from around the world.



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