On Wednesday and Thursday, the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations (CDAC) was held in Beijing, another important domestic diplomatic event in 2019, following the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) and the Beijing International Horticultural Exhibition.
The CDAC was initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia in 2014 and was formally proposed at the annual meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia in 2015.
Under the theme of “exchanges and mutual learning among Asian civilizations and a community with a shared future,” this week’s CDAC attracted more than 2,000 delegates from 47 Asian countries and other countries outside Asia.
On Wednesday morning, Xi delivered his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the CDAC. The speech vividly showed the whole world Asian confidence, aspirations and wisdom.
Xi called for Asia to enhance cultural self-confidence and strive to write a new chapter of Asian civilization. That should be treated as a wake-up call for ancient Asia, one of the earliest human-inhabited places and one of the most important birthplaces of human civilizations. Asia has made great cultural achievements over the past thousands of years. Therefore, it should have the confidence to do better in the future.
Confidence is more precious than gold. The success of China’s reform and opening-up actually has been guided and underpinned by the “Four Matters of Confidence” – confidence in its path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Among the four, “confidence in its culture” is the most fundamental, profound, broad, basic, deep-rooted, and long-lasting.
Asian countries, especially developing ones, should learn from China on how to boost cultural self-confidence. Because humanity needs cultural strength, besides economic and technological strength, to cope with common challenges and head toward a bright future, just as Xi argued.
Xi also stressed that Asian people expect an Asia with peace and stability, common prosperity, and openness and integration. Those are indeed the most urgent matters for Asia, which is probably the most diverse region on Earth, covering one-third of the total landmass, hosting two-thirds of the global population, and consisting of 47 countries and more than 1,000 ethnic groups.
First, Asia is not thoroughly peaceful and stable. In the Middle East, wars and conflicts are persisting, while the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea have not been permanently stabilized.
Second, not all Asian countries are prosperous. Although much of Asia has achieved remarkable economic progress in recent decades, currently it still hosts nine Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and hundreds of millions of extremely poor people.
Third, Asia is not fully open and integrated. It is still facing a serious infrastructure shortage and connectivity gap, which the Belt and Road Initiative aims to address.
Fortunately, Asian countries are not only geographically but also culturally connected, so they have experienced similar historical situations and are willing to pursue the same dream together. Facing the future, Asian countries should grasp the overall situation and strive to turn people’s aspiration for a better life into reality, as Xi suggested.
To build up the Asian and global community with a shared future, Xi proposed four basic principles: mutual respect and equal treatment among civilizations; harmonious co-existence of various civilizations; openness, inclusiveness, and mutual learning among civilizations; and the need for civilizations to keep pace with the times. The core idea can be simplified as the Confucian philosophy “accommodating divergent views” (he er bu tong), a common wisdom shared among Asian civilizations.
History tells us that it is disastrous to reshape or even replace other civilizations; history also tells us that civilizations can only be vibrant and sustainable if they are open and willing to learn from others. Chinese civilization has existed continuously for more than 5,000 years, simply because it has been an open system formed during constant exchanges and mutual learning with other civilizations.
China is not only a beneficiary of civilizational exchanges, but also a strong advocate of such exchanges. Meanwhile, China does not only provide wisdom and solutions, but also takes concrete actions. The ancient Silk Road connected China and the Far East with the Middle East and Europe. Nowadays, the Belt and Road Initiative is rejuvenating Asia and beyond, while the CDAC has become a platform of exchanges and mutual learning among different cultures for common progress.
Asia has been the home of three of the “four great ancient civilizations,” and Asian civilization won global fame for thousands of years of history. We Asian people should jointly and confidently work together to revive our Asian civilization and restore our past glory, not only for a better Asia but also for a better world in the future.
This article was originally published by China Radio International (CRI).