A major symposium on historical studies was held at the Palace Museum in Beijing on Monday as part of events commemorating the 600th anniversary of the construction of the Forbidden City.
The Forbidden City, known today as the Palace Museum, was China's imperial palace during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
Covering 720,000 square meters, the compound is the world's largest surviving complex of palace architecture.
Its construction was completed in 1420 during the reign of Zhu Di, the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty. The national capital was then moved from Nanjing, today's capital of Jiangsu province, to Beijing.
More than 100 scholars from across the Chinese mainland attended the symposium, which was jointly organized by the museum and several other high-level research institutions in the country including Peking University, Tsinghua University and the First Historical Archives of China.
They gathered to explore the cultural significance of the Forbidden City's architectural splendor and its huge collection of cultural relics, as well as the historical legacy of the two dynasties.
According to Wang Xudong, director of the Palace Museum, the symposium was one of the biggest of its kind.
"On the 600th anniversary, we look back on our history to have a better outlook for the future," he said at the opening ceremony of the symposium.
"Studies on collections in the Palace Museum have to be put against a big picture of Chinese and world history to better connect the research on the Forbidden City and on the Ming and Qing dynasties as a whole."
Historians from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, including Fung Ming-chu, former director of the Palace Museum in Taipei, took part in the symposium through a video link.
Scholars from 10 countries also joined the event through the internet.
On Sept 28, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, highlighted the importance of developing archaeology and related historical studies at a group study session of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.
Xi said this work was important in giving the public a better understanding of Chinese civilization, and he also mentioned the vital role of historical studies in social sciences on a number of occasions.
Echoing Xi's remarks, Gao Xiang, director of the China Academy of History, said at the symposium that a deeper understanding of the previous six centuries of Chinese history would help people get a clearer view of the world today.
"Such a large-scale symposium on the Ming and Qing dynasties can help us get a more complete picture," said Chen Chunsheng, a professor at the Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University.
Zhu Chengru, a veteran researcher at the Palace Museum in Beijing, said construction of the Forbidden City, whose basic layout has remained unchanged, showed "how rulers during the peak time of the Ming and Qing dynasties spared no effort to safeguard the frontiers and maintain national unity among different ethnic groups".