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Writing new chapters of Asian civilizations

2019-05-16 16:18:00 Source:chinadaily.com.cn Author:
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by Faisal Kidwai

It’s a paradox of our time that as the world becomes closer and more interconnected, xenophobia, unilateralism and trade barriers are creating a deeper chasm and differences all across the world. Instead of celebrating diversity and learning from each other’s cultures, racism and nationalism are raising their ugly heads.


To bring people of different countries and regions closer, President Xi Jinping first initiated a dialogue among Asian nations at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia in Shanghai in 2014. Xi, who has long been a believer in and contributor to communications across civilizations, proposed holding the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations at the annual meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia in 2015.


With the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations opening in Beijing on May 15, that idea has now become a reality.


Delivering the keynote speech at the opening ceremony, Xi said: “Exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations should be conducted in a reciprocal and equal manner, and be diversified and multidirectional. They should not be compulsory or forced, or be a one-way flow.”


He said: “We should keep exchanges and mutual learning with other civilizations in the world, and strive to continue writing new brilliant chapters of Asian civilizations. We should consolidate the cultural foundation of jointly building an Asian community of a shared future and a community with a shared future for humanity.”


Xi, who believes in promoting mutual respect, understanding and learning among different cultures and civilizations, said in 2014, “Art and literary works are the best ways for different nations and people to understand and communicate with each other.”


This is especially true in a world witnessing an increase in anti-globalization, protectionism and security threats and claims of a “clash of civilizations.”


Therefore, Xi’s speech could not have come at a more opportune time. His emphasis on building bridges through culture, through dialogue and through mutual understanding will strike a chord not only in Asia, but all across the globe. His call will ring true especially with those who desire a fairer flow of goods and trade, who want to use various cultural tools, such as movies and folk traditions, to create a multilateral world and who seek to share their own traditions, such as cuisine, to build a melting pot of various nationalities, races and customs.


No country exemplifies this inclusiveness more than China. A country with a history of more than 5,000 years, China has always protected and carried forward its culture and at the same time encouraged Chinese to learn from other cultures. This open and broad-minded outlook has not only helped China grow economically and socially, but has also advanced civilizations across the world.


Today, millions of Chinese travel all around the globe, with many of them settling down in different countries through marriage or business. Millions of people around the world are studying Chinese as they want to have a better understanding of various facets of society. Chinese movies and TV shows have entered living rooms stretching from Tokyo to Abuja. And Chinese cuisine has delighted palates in just about every country.


Similarly, hundreds of thousands of foreigners are working and studying in China, with many of them establishing deep roots in the country through marriage or business. Whether through movies or food, foreign influence is reaching every corner of the country. Almost all major international brands are present in China and are transforming everything from home décor to advanced technologies.


This aspect was reiterated by Xi when he said at the conference, “Seeking goodwill with neighbors and harmony with all nations is the Chinese way of engaging with the world. Benefiting the people and providing them with stability and prosperity are the distinctive values of Chinese civilization. Continuing to reform, innovate and advance with the times is the unchanging spirit of Chinese civilization.”


It’s time the world, especially Asia, heeded Xi’s call and began working toward strengthening civilizations, mutual respect and friendship, and tearing down barriers and hurdles.


Or, as Xi said in his speech, “Humanity needs cultural strength, besides economic and technological strength, to cope with common challenges and head toward a bright future.”


The author is from India and he is a copy editor with chinadaily.com.cn.


The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.

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