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Towards Peace and Understanding: An Interview with Dr. Li Kaisheng

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It was a pleasant morning as I walked to the agreed meeting place. I was running late by a few minutes due to the morning traffic congestion so I walked hurriedly, hoping that my interviewee would have also been delayed by the slow flow of traffic. As I got nearer the rendezvous point, I saw a man with a dark blue polo shirt tucked in his jeans seemingly waiting for someone. He was in his usual casual ‘professor-look’ and as he saw me, he waved, smiled, and stood up to shake my hand.

The man is none other than Dr. Li Kaisheng and he was all smiles as he approached me. Dr. Li is an associate research professor from the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. He was in the Philippines for a six-month stint as a research fellow at the Asian Center in the University of the Philippines Diliman.

His six months in the country was almost up when we met for this interview, and he was going back to China in a few days. We were lucky to be able to book an interview with him to get him to share his experiences, perspectives, and the memories he made as a first-timer visitor to the Philippines. Here is how the rest of the morning went with Dr. Li.

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Interview with Dr. Dai Fan

Center for Philippine Studies, School of International Studies, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China

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DIVERSITY & FREEDOM

Dr. Dai Fan is the Deputy Director of the newly established Center for Philippine Studies, a sub-branch of the School of International Studies in Jinan University, Guangzhou China. He was initially introduced to the Philippines as a research topic when a government to government exchange scholarship was made available in 2006. He would become a research fellow in 2007 staying ten months in UP Diliman where his research topic focused on “New Chinese Migration in the Philippines” and “Philippine Foreign Policy”. Before taking a full-time position as a professor in the School of International Studies in Jinan University, he worked in Beijing’s Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council for three years.

While in the Philippines as a student, the hospitality of the Filipino left an indelible mark on Dr. Fan which would eventually mean traveling to the Philippines twice or three times annually (this routine was only broken in 2013 when he only visited the country once because his wife was pregnant at the time). He could not forget the kindness the Filipinos from all walks of like showed to a then simple research student— one professor took almost every week touring him, his wife, and two other Japanese scholars around Manila. He also recalls, with effervescent delight, how bloated he felt having to attend three Christmas feasts in 2007 (it is an unthinkable for a Chinese visitor to decline a friend’s invitation). When asked what he found most unique about the Philippines, his answer was immediate: “Diversity” and “Freedom”. The diversity of food, culture, people, and race and the freedom where all of these coexist continue to fascinate him. On this most recent sojourn, several noteworthy beginnings were in store: he was on a mission to establish networks for the newly founded Philippine studies center and for the first time, he brought along four undergraduate students (who are scheduled to pursue a Philippine Studies degree under the center’s tutelage).

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