To approach different civilizations with a mind broader than the sky

By He Yin, On March 27, 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the UNESCO headquarters, calling on the world to encourage different civilizations to respect each other and live in harmony, so that exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations will become a bridge promoting friendship between people around the world, an engine driving the progress of human society, and a bond cementing world peace.

Ten years on, Xi’s proposals on exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations have gained increasingly more support from the international community, providing strong motivation for building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Human history is one of civilizations living and prospering together in diversity. There are more than 200 countries and regions, over 2,500 ethnic groups, and multiple religions in our world. Diversity breeds exchanges, exchanges lead to integration, and integration brings progress.

Xi said civilizations have come in different colors, and such diversity has made exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations relevant and valuable; 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.

He said to promote exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations, the world must adopt the right approach with some important principles. His remarks have charted the course for human progress.

Irina Bokova, then director-general of UNESCO, noted that the vision of the Chinese leader aligns perfectly with the mission of UNESCO.

Over the past decade, Xi has elaborated on China’s perspective on civilization in the new era on various occasions, continuously contributing Chinese wisdom and solutions to promoting cultural exchanges, mutual learning, and the progress of human civilization.

When attending the general debate of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in September 2015, he noted that peace, development, equity, justice, democracy, and freedom are common values of all mankind. At the 18th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization held in June 2018, he stressed the importance of championing equality, mutual learning, dialogue and inclusiveness between civilizations.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations in May 2019, Xi emphasized the need to promote exchanges and mutual learning among countries, nations, and cultures around the world, and strengthen popular support for jointly building a community with a shared future for both Asia and humanity as a whole.

In his keynote speech delivered at the Communist Party of China in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-level Meeting in March 2023, Xi proposed the Global Civilizations Initiative, saying the world should advocate respect for the diversity of civilizations, the common values of humanity, the importance of inheritance and innovation of civilizations, and robust international people-to-people exchanges and cooperation.

Through these important remarks by Xi, the international community sees China’s major country responsibility to promote human progress.

“As long as the idea of peace can strike deep roots and the sail of peace can be hoisted in the hearts and minds of people all over the world, a strong defense will be constructed to prevent and stop war.” What Xi said provides valuable guidance for navigating the current intricate and volatile international landscape.

Today, conflicts keep emerging in certain regions of the world, and terrorist attacks occur from time to time, while hegemonic thinking continues to erode the foundations of peace.

Bearing in mind the future of humanity and the well-being of the people, China will always stay on the right path of seeking solidarity and cooperation, and offer more solutions with Chinese wisdom to regional hotspots and global issues.

China is joining hands with various parties to implement the Global Civilizations Initiative, building a stage for peace-loving people around the world through multiple platforms and in different forms where they can showcase their diverse cultures and civilizations.

As the future of all countries is closely connected, tolerance, coexistence, exchanges, and mutual learning among different civilizations play an irreplaceable role in advancing humanity’s modernization process and making the garden of world civilizations colorful and vibrant.

Over the past decade, China has been actively engaged in high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and implementing the Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative, and Global Civilizations Initiative. It has exchanged governance experience with other countries and strengthened synergy among development strategies. The country has consistently advocated for inclusiveness and mutual learning among civilizations, reinforcing mutual understanding, respect, and trust among nations.

International observers believe that as long as countries around the world work together, they can make the world better, more peaceful, and more prosperous.

“Indeed, we need a mind that is broader than the sky as we approach different civilizations,” Xi said. History tells us that only by interacting with and learning from others can a civilization enjoy full vitality. If all civilizations can uphold inclusiveness, the so-called “clash of civilizations” will be out of the question and the harmony of civilizations will become a reality.

China will continuously uphold the values of equality, mutual learning, dialogue, and inclusiveness among civilizations, and work with all parties to implement the Global Civilizations Initiative, to open up a new prospect of enhanced exchanges and understanding among different peoples and better interactions and integration of diversified cultures, and make contribution to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

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