China advocates mutual learning among civilizations with concrete actions
By Zhao Cheng from People’s Daily
“I have visited many places in the world. The best thing I wanted to do is to learn about differing civilizations across the five continents, what make them different and unique, how their people think about the world and life and what they hold dear,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping when delivering a speech at the headquarters of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2014.
His remarks are of huge significance, signaling China’s sincerity and resolution to promote mutual learning among civilizations, especially when the country is holding the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations (CDAC).
With concrete practices, President Xi has promoted communication through cultural exchanges, and boosted mutual understanding through communication.
He has left his footprints in Uzbekistan’s Bukhara, known as a living fossil of Silk Road, Peru’s National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History, and Strahov Library in the Czech Republic.
Besides, he has given thoughts on world civilizations including the similarities between Chinese Taichi and Indian Yoga, as well as the cultural resonance between Tang Xianzu, a famous Chinese playwright of Ming Dynasty, and Shakespeare.
At the UNESCO headquarters, President Xi comprehensively expounded on what China champions and how China promotes mutual learning between civilizations
“Civilizations have come in different colors, and such diversity has made exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations relevant and valuable,” he said.
“Civilizations are equal, and such equality has made exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations possible; civilizations are inclusive, and such inclusiveness has given exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations the needed drive to move forward,” the president noted.
Last year, he charted the course for cultural advances of the major-country diplomacy in the new era at the first Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs after the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
China should recognize both the general trend of mutual enrichment of different cultures and the reality of encounters between different values and cultures, he said.
As President Xi put in his speech, civilizations have become richer and more colorful with exchanges and mutual learning.
“The Chinese civilization, together with the rich and colorful civilizations created by the people of other countries, will provide mankind with the right cultural guidance and strong motivation,” he said.
China will continue to make unremitting efforts to promote exchanges and mutual learning between world cultures and enhance mutual understanding and friendship between Chinese people and peoples from other countries.
President Xi announced a series of measures for promoting people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and the world at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, China-Latin America and the Caribbean summits, and ministerial meetings of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum.
Under such guidance from the senior official, China has established high-level mechanisms of people-to-people and cultural exchanges and held diversified cultural activities with multiple countries. The fast-growing people-to-people and cultural exchanges under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative are a great example.
“We believe the Belt and Road cooperation promotes exchanges, mutual learning and dialogue among different peoples, cultures and civilizations,” said the Joint Communique of the Leaders’ Roundtable of the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
The long history of mankind tells us that conflicts and wars often stem from misunderstanding and prejudices, while development and prosperity benefit from exchanges and mutual learning.
As Jürgen Habermas, a well-known German philosopher said that different cultures should transcend the basic value limitations of their traditional forms, respect each other as equal dialogue partners, and eliminate misunderstanding and abandon prejudice in a harmonious and friendly atmosphere.
China has a civilization of more than 5,000 years. It is the spirit of drawing on others and inclusiveness that enabled the Chinese nation to sustain its profound culture and make continuous progress.
China has proved to the world with its own actions that only through mutual learning and exchanges could civilizations sustain vitality, and peaceful and harmonious coexistence of civilizations could be achieved through inclusiveness.
The international community has responded actively to President Xi’s proposal to hold the CDAC at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) held in Shanghai in 2014, and the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference in 2015.
To date, China has partnered with countries both in Asia and the world to hold multiple-tiered and wide-ranging dialogues and cultural activities, creating favorable conditions for the CDAC.
The conference, implementing President Xi’s proposal, demonstrates China as an advocate and practitioner of mutual learning among civilizations. It will further promote mutual learning among Asian and world civilizations and help them achieve common progress.