Dialogue Promoting Understanding

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony, stressing mutual respect and equal treatment among civilizations. Experts from different countries and organizations also expressed opinions about cultural exchange and dialogue between various civilizations.
by Anita Yin
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April 11, 2019: An elephant squirts water over tourists in Ayutthaya, Thailand, during the country’s traditional Water Splashing Festival. The vast land of Asia has witnessed lasting, intensive exchanges among various civilizations. Rachen Sageamsak/Xinhua

On May 15, the Conference on Dialogue among Asian Civilizations commenced with the theme “Exchanges and mutual learning among Asian civilizations and a community with a shared future” and an aim to deepen cooperation among Asian countries. Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony, stressing mutual respect and equal treatment among civilizations. Experts from different countries and organizations also expressed opinions about cultural exchange and dialogue between various civilizations.

Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Bahá’í International Community to the United Nations

Through dialogue between different civilizations, we can learn more about each other and recognize the diversity of humankind. This gives people a much better understanding of each other and each other’s perspectives, which in turn greatly reduces the chance of conflict.

Ole Döring, Philosopher, Professor of Sinology at Freie Universität Berlin

How can we organize our commonality to optimize the value created by diversity? First, we must respect each other, and then we can get to know each other. If we get to know each other, we will start to understand what everyone needs and how we can collaborate. And then everything else will fall into place. The Conference on Dialogue among Asian Civilizations has provided a chance to start with the basics: conversation. We should embrace this spirit up and work with China and other civilizations as well as countries and cultures across Eurasia. This is precisely what we need.

Georgios Tzogopoulos, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre International de Formation Européenne (CIFE)

Xi’s speech was impressive. I noticed that he did not deem any civilization superior to another. It is important to bear in mind that all people are equal and only mutual respect will enable sincere dialogue and contribute to progress. And at the same time, as President Xi said, it is important to look to history, but also to forge civilizations built for modern development. This is what China is doing by placing so much focus on innovation.

Niranjan Sahoo, Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation’s Governance and Politics Initiative

With more than 2000 delegates from 47 countries including half a dozen heads of state, the scale of the CDAC opening ceremony was unprecedented in Asia. Chinese President Xi Jinping inaugurated it with his trademark style of delivering speeches—calm, focused and yet presented a cogent illustration of Asia’s rich heritage, ancient and glorious religions and diversity. While promoting economic liberalization and trade, Asian countries must emphasize people-to-people exchange, promote cultural exchange, appreciate diversity and embrace unique individual traits. People are the best bridges for culture and can reduce misunderstandings among nations.

Sreemati Chakrabarti, Vice-chair of the Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi

Cultural exchange is vital. Without such exchanges, how can anyone know and understand another culture? Everyone would start thinking their own culture is superior and that their heritage and values are more important than others’. Cultural exchange helps countries learn from each other.

 There should be collaboration between artists of various disciplines from musicians and dancers to painters and sculptors. These collaborations and exchange should be organized on a regular basis, with artists from different countries invited to train in others. They will return home with a wealth of knowledge and understanding about another country’s culture. Perhaps from such mashups of cultures, a new kind of art will emerge.

Ma Bin, Associate Fellow at the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University

The significance of Asian civilizations globally is not limited to the continent’s brilliant achievements that have enriched human civilization. These societies also provide real development stories that demonstrate that connectivity, exchange and mutual learning are fundamental driving forces for prosperity, solid pillars of peace and a basic roadway to a shared future. 

China has inherited one of the oldest civilizations in the world and advocates coexistence of different civilizations through mutual respect, exchange and inclusive development, which is why it launched the Conference on Dialogue among Asian Civilizations.

Wang Shida, Deputy Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations

President Xi declared in his speech that Asian people demand an Asia of common prosperity. His remarks captured the prevailing hopes of Asian people for development. Asia is home to the world’s two largest developing countries: China and India. 

China is seeking to achieve the “Chinese Dream” and India has also proposed working to seize an “Indian Dream.” Both plans aim to develop the economy, improve living standards and ensure a bright future.

There would be no clash of civilizations as long as people are able to appreciate the beauty of them all, stressed Xi. Examples of diverse civilizations are easy to find among the various civilizations that sprouted from the Indus Valley and Ganges River Valley as well as along the Yellow and Yangtze rivers. The civilizations formed around contrasting geographical environments, historical development paths and ethnic groups, but each can still appreciate and support the others.

Wang Wei, Former Head of the Institute of Archaeology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)

Archaeological findings have shown that many important discoveries and inventions of humans originated in Asia such as cultivation of rice, wheat and soy, production of copper, iron, ceramics and paper and breeding of dogs, pigs, cattle and sheep. 

Among the four major ancient civilizations of the world, three emerged in Asia: ancient Chinese civilization, ancient Indian civilization and Mesopotamian civilization.

One of the most important reasons Asia has fostered so many cultural achievements is the varied and frequent exchanges featuring openness, inclusiveness and mutual learning that have been conducted among different cultures in the region and on other continents.

Exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations are the driving forces for economic, cultural and social development, as evidenced by numerous archaeological discoveries.