Lingnan University and Phoenix TV host screening of documentary "Life Goes On" Experts and scholars discuss encouraging patriotism with history

17 May 2024

Lingnan University and Phoenix TV hosted the screening of the documentary "Life Goes On" on campus today (17 May). The film is about the history of education in South China during the War of Resistance against Japan, and tells the story of several schools, including Lingnan University and National Sun Yat-sen University, that moved to northern Guangdong and continued their educational mission despite the challenging conditions. The film attracted experts, scholars, and students from the Mainland and Hong Kong, and having watched it they talked about how to draw lessons from history and encourage patriotism.


Distinguished guests attending the screening included Mr Raistlin Lau, the Under Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism; Prof Lau Chi-pang, Associate Vice-President (Academic Affairs and External Relations) and Coordinator of the Hong Kong and South China Historical Research Programme of Lingnan University; Mr Sun Yusheng, Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief of Phoenix Satellite Television; Mr Wu Xiaomou, Deputy Director of the Forestry Administration of Guangdong Province; Mr Wang Haibin, Director of the Guangzhou Archives; Prof Tian Guangzeng, Vice-President of Shaoguan University; Ms Huang Ruimin, Secretary General of the Sun Yat-sen University Alumni Association; Dr Hon Chow Man-kong, Deputy Chairman of Panel on Education of Legislative Council; members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Mr Ma Ho Man, Mr Lo Wing-hung, Ms Ng Ching-yee, Ms Yao Jue; Mr John Li, Chairman of the Hua Jing Society; Mr Huang Haibo, Deputy Head of the Chinese Channel and Head of Phoenix Movie Channel at of Phoenix Satellite Television.


The film is based on the latest research and precious historical material. It takes a rigorous documentary and docudrama approach, portraying the touching stories vividly. Shot in various locations, including Shaoguan, Yufu, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, it shows the former school sites and what is there now. It also conducted on-site interviews with eyewitnesses or members of their families recounting the stories of these schools, such as Lingnan University and Sun Yat-sen University, as they persevered in the face of the Japanese invasion. The film highlights their resilience and dedication to education, nurturing outstanding literature, art, physics, botany, astronomy, and geography scholars. These institutions made significant contributions to academic research in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and have left an indelible mark on the history of Chinese education.


Lingnan University played a crucial role as a witness and participant in this history as, during the Anti-Japanese War, Lingnan first moved to Hong Kong in 1938 after the fall of Guangzhou, and then to Qujiang in Shaoguan in December 1941 after the fall of Hong Kong under then-President Lee Ying-lam. As the war continued, Lingnan University was forced to move yet again, this time to Meixian, east of the Pearl River. The "Lingnan Spirit" of resuming classes despite hardships nurtured great talents such as Huang Benli, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Anna Chan Chennault, the world-famous social activist, and Dr James Tak Wu, who founded the Maxim's Group. After the War of Resistance against Japan was won, Lingnan University resumed its operations at Kangle Campus of Guangzhou, and, in 1952, merged with Sun Yat-sen University and some other institutions as part of higher education reform. In the 1960s, alumni worked together to re-establish Lingnan University in Hong Kong.


In his speech, Mr Raistlin Lau, the Under Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism, said, “As an important cultural medium, films not only provide entertainment to the public but also present themes, stories, characters, wisdom, and values that often lead audiences to reflect on life or find resonance and recognition. I believe that the documentary 'Life Goes On' can draw society's attention to the history of education in South China, serve as the greatest tribute and commemoration to the teachers and students of the past, and inspire generations of Chinese people to cherish their time and strive for success.”


In his speech, Prof Lau Chi-pang, Associate Vice-President (Academic Affairs and External Relations) of Lingnan University, said "Screening the film at Lingnan University is very meaningful and symbolic. The film gives students a deeper understanding and appreciation of the university's history, particularly during the War of Resistance against Japan, when Lingnan's teachers and students were part of the national crisis, and embraced the spirit of saving the nation through education, and this makes students proud to be Lingnanians. Today, Lingnan is a well-known liberal arts institution in Asia, dedicated to the internationalisation and cooperative development of education, and plays an active role in contributing to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Lingnan University upholds its motto 'Education for Service', and is fully committed to supporting students who will then use their knowledge to contribute to the community."


In the discussion session, experts and scholars agreed that the film shows the struggle and pursuit of education in South China during difficult times, while also looking at the profound influence and historical roots of education in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Taiwan, affirming the shared origins of the educational institutions in these regions. The schools that faced the hardships of war have now evolved into first-class institutions with considerable academic influence, and continue to cultivate talent in diverse fields.