Civilization advances when change is embraced rather than ignored
As the most populous continent in the world, Asia has a long and influential history of human civilization. Through cultural accumulation, countries like China and India, over time, have built their unique wisdom. Both countries have played an important role in the development of human civilization, particularly by helping Asian countries fend off colonialism and become independent and modernized.
Examples of leading thinkers include China’s Laozi, the famous Taoist sage, and Confucius, along with India’s Sakyamuni, or Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, and then later Mahatma Gandhi. Their philosophies have spread throughout the world.
Such values that originated from Asia have also affected the West. Laozi’s philosophy and Confucius’ moral philosophical thoughts have inspired millions. Some US scholars have quoted Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism in their research on environmental protection to support their claims.
As modernization continues, Asian economies have followed and their cultural influence has increased. The process in which Asian civilization develops is also one that enables mutual learning with different origins in the Eastern and Western worlds. During this process, the merits of civilizations are passed on.
The Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations held in Beijing will provide an ideal platform for exchange and mutual learning. On this stage, Asian civilizations’ advantages, future perspectives, and unique values and perceptions will be showcased under the global spotlight, drawing attention to political leaders and cultural scholars.
The event will not be limited to gaining a mutual understanding between Asian countries. At the same time, it will advance foreign understanding of Asia’s civilizations and modernization, which is conducive for world peace, prosperity, development, and globalization.
Asian civilizations are undergoing a historical period of significant transformation. There have been changes in the economy and society – especially after World War II – and in civilization itself. On one hand, Asian countries need to strengthen self-confidence in their cultures. On the other, they have to decide which cultural characters are beneficial, and which should be left behind.
This process will help Asian civilizations achieve modernization. Generally, Asian countries face similar problems during this process, and countries whose histories run parallel with China, such as India, and countries that have been in contact with China via the Silk Road since ancient times can further boost cultural interaction and cooperation through the opportunity provided by the conference.
The event will not only advance Asian countries’ cultural identity and self-confidence but also promote the development of civilization to keep pace with the times. Since antiquity, no civilization has remained unchanged, because adapting with the times helps a civilization last longer.
When Asian civilizations undergo transitions that involve self-recognition, societal upgrades and modernization, their influence expands globally and they attain an international standing that matches their population and economy.
The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Xu Hailin based on an interview with Liu Jian, a research fellow at the Beijing-based National Institute of International Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.