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West Meets East: China Embracing Innovation with Sustainability

29 October 2019

The 21st century is an era of contending, an era of large reflection and re-thinking, and an era, which calls for great wisdom and great strategy. In the past 40 years, the world has changed dramatically especially between West and East. The start of China’s economic reform and opening to the outside world in 1978, the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991, and the burst of financial bubbles in Wall Street in 2008, all these have been combined with 40 years of  China’s fast economic development. These big events shocked the world and subverted people’s thinking with huge impact on people’s judgement. West Meets East with China Embracing Innovation and Sustainability is arguably a strategic theme of great interest as West and East are facing different challenges. Many countries around the world are seeking strategic opportunity period, innovation and sustainability. However, this grand event to be held at New Beacon Campus today demonstrates that New Beacon and Staffordshire have a strong interest in creating drivers of leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship which deliver business opportunities and development, economic and technological development and sustainability. Meanwhile this grand event creates a platform through which strategic partners of firms, colleges and universities between China and UK in particular between China and New Beacon as well as Staffordshire as a region through the discussions and debates upon the strategic issues related with Belt and Road Initiative with China Embracing Innovation.

New Beacon Campus

We have been striving to create a global university of the future on a beautiful garden-like campus with well-established classrooms, lecture-theatre, seminar-rooms, conference facilities, gymnastics and sports facilities, student-accommodations and state-of-art ICT technologies as well as catering services on a grand area of 50 acres of land in the Borough of Stafford. We are proud to be revitalising the former university campus and bringing our own perspective to the rich history of global higher education in the Borough of Stafford.

Since early 2019, we have successfully launched Beacon Business School, Beacon School of China Studies and Beacon School of Tourism & Hospitality along with Research Institute for West & East Management, Research Institute for Belt & Road, as we as the two residential colleges – Beacon Innovation College and Beacon Entrepreneurship College. Our vision is to create a globally-connected university in business, management and innovation, tackling the challenges and opportunities between west and east, developing future leaders and managers. The education of innovation, entrepreneurship and global mind-set is embedded in our goals and curriculum of teaching and learning. We carry forward embracing innovation in our corporate strategy and every activities of the campus and highlight management innovation, system innovation, talent innovation, campus innovation.


A Globally-Connected Beacon University of the Future

As far as the birth and evolution and “university” is concerned, we have to talk about its close relationship and connectedness with “education”. It is widely acknowledged that Confucius was the one who contributed to the cause of education and had a profound influence on the educational activities of later generations in China and globally. Four ancient colleges in ancient China, which played an important role in the ancient education system of the Chinese culture circle, include Yue Lu (now Hunan Long Shayue Lushan) College, Bailudong (now Jiangxi Lushan) College, Fuyang (now Henan Dengfeng) College, Yingtian (now Henan Shangqiu Academy, were collectively known as the Four Ancient Chinese Academy.

However, as far as the modern university system with combination of “teaching and research” as a whole, it is inevitable to talk about Oxford University, which was born in 1096, and Cambridge University, which was born in 1209. Harvard University was born in 1636 after May Flower sailed to North Carolina from Plymouth, England in 1620. Qing government of China in 1909 established a preparatory school for studying in the United States by using the refunded part of Gengzi Indemnity. In 1911, It was changed into the “Tsinghua School” and subsequently was renamed as Tsinghua University. Actually, the pattern and structure of Oxford as a modern university has been duplicated to the rest of the world in this way.

Throughout the world today, in particular in the west, the current political situation is somewhat chaotic while the west and east are facing different challenges. It is already late to complain that Western politicians are not reliable and inaction. The West, including the UK and the US, needs to innovate and reform its talent development model and educational philosophy. China’s economic development and social governance have formed a unique Chinese model as the theory of China Embracing innovation explicitly elaborated. The world look forward to the Chinese model and sharing the Chinese innovation model. However, whether Chinese higher education has established its own unique model is still an un-answered question that needs to be explored. The response of different challenges between the East and the West requires the integration of west and east management practice, management theory and management philosophy and sharing of knowledge and wisdom between the East and the West. On this background, Beacon University came into being and got off the ground.


A University with a Strong Feature

There is no doubt that the UK, with a population of 66 million, has already possessed over 150 outstanding universities. Therefore, Britain does not lack a university. However, the creation of the Beacon University in Stafford is based on its clear vision, mission and philosophy. It makes a difference from the very beginning.

Philosophical concept: a combination of Eastern and Western knowledge, unity of knowledge and action, integration and development of Eastern and Western management practices, ideas and philosophy. Our strength lies in our unique teaching method integration between east and west, which enables students to become full-fledged global competitor.

We enable people to better understand themselves and their responsibilities while integrating successful business stories with practice and theory. Our mission is to create an excellent international humanities and business management institution with far-reaching influence in the international arena, and to cultivate future humanities and business management leaders.

Globally, to building a world-class institution of higher learning, maintaining an international frontier in selected fields of teaching and research. Nationally, to build an internationally excellent humanities and business management university. Locally, to work with government, business and industry as well as community in building an innovation oriented society.


China Embracing Innovation

China’s embracing innovation is a strategic model of the wise who are seeking common development, sharing resources and win-win solution. It is a social innovation with Chinese characteristics. 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 China 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 complementary to each other.

The value system of “embracing innovation” can be summarized into three “integrations”: an integration of planning economy with marketing economy; an integration of Eastern philosophy with Western management; an integration of prescriptive strategies with emergent strategies. It is more reflected in the superstructure and ideological field. It contains two levels: a. it refers to concept and philosophy innovation, designed as a top guide to break the shackles of the spirit and helps problem-solving. It delivers social and political sustainability; b. it refers to innovation of technology and management, which balances the strategy between indigenous innovation and imitative innovation and helps to build a solid economic foundation & sustainability. The two levels of “embracing innovation” are complementary to each other, which makes the “embracing innovation” a soul of national progress, an inexhaustible power of the national prosperity.

The goal of this conference, including PhD Innovation Forum and UK-China Business School Deans Forum,  is to inspire current and strategic thinking, provide a platform for exploring linkages and mechanisms and explore appropriate and effective modes of West Meets East, strategic alliances between governments, universities and global firms, international trade, international technology transfer, knowledge transfer and knowledge sharing, culture creativity and technology innovation and collaboration between China and UK. Our intent is to provoke creative and innovative ideas, by bringing together various stakeholders, including academics, researchers, university presidents, deans of business schools, corporate leaders, policy makers, venture capitalists, managers, and senior students for exchange of ideas, research findings, current experiences, best practices, and lessons learned. The intellectual lens will rotate around addressing various questions of global engagement in higher education with the thematic content of ‘East Meet West” modes of collaboration in this field.

I wish everyone enjoy the conference and your stay at New Beacon Campus.


Professor Richard Li-Hua

President, New Beacon Campus

Speech delivered on 18th October, 2019 at China Embracing Conference 2019 New Beacon Campus, United Kingdom


Note: This article was largely extended by the author after the delivery. The actual speech was a short version. Please also note that China Embracing Innovation Conference held at New Beacon Campus is the 3rd of similar conferences where the 1st China Embracing Innovation Conference was delivered in Bournemouth, UK and the 2nd China Embracing Innovation Conference was delivered in Helsinki, Finland.