Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations

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(190515) -- BEIJING, May 15, 2019 (Xinhua) -- The thematic forum "The Responsibility of Young People in Carrying Forward Asian Civilization Heritage" of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations (CDAC) is held in Beijing, capital of China, May 15, 2019. (Xinhua/Yin Gang)

The Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations (CDAC) shared China’s idea for relations that support mutual learning and harmonious coexistence of different civilizations as opposed to a zero-sum clash. Asian countries should bond together to discuss and address regional issues. The spirit of the Silk Road was widely recognized with a view that China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative will benefit their regions.

Conference which proved to be the Asia’s first-ever grand gathering themed on inter-civilizational exchanges and mutual learning for a community with a shared future also agreed that the pursuit of better development forms the primary commonality of Asian countries’ dreams. Thousands of people from 47 Asian countries and nearly 50 countries outside the region attended the conference in Beijing and called for social stability and peace, along with more benefits for the people, came next, in terms of Asian people’s dreams, noting that Asian people prioritized their right to develop.

The conference comes at a time when certain countries have resorted to the clash of civilizations argument, bullying, unilateralism and an inward-looking mentality so the philosophy of Chinese civilization could be shared by many other countries; between different civilizations or social systems, there can be competition and also mutual learning.

With reform and opening-up in 1978, China opened itself to the world again, testing Chinese civilization on the international arena and the result proved that through mutual learning, its potential could be activated, and China’s fast development also brought opportunities to the world. This kind of mutual learning could help other different civilizations prosper and develop, Zhang noted. It is unnecessary to have a clash of civilizations.

In some cases, the US may learn from China; poverty alleviation is one of the things that the US should learn from China. Reforestation to address climate change is what the world should learn from China as China is also doing an excellent job at education. These are the positive things China is demonstrating to the world and providing opportunities for mutual learning and better understanding between cultures, as I benefited from studying China and its still-striving civilization.

The so-called clash of civilizations is more likely to be born in the minds of unenlightened men than in the cultures themselves. Conference also worried that a US zero-sum game mentality and clash of civilizations theory held by some US politicians might cause real tensions, even conflicts, among civilizations.

Today, we are in a very complicated world where one country says we are first, and everyone else must come second, third and fourth. And China says ‘a common shared destiny of mankind. We have to work together to address the common challenges, such as climate change. Unlike the US, China won’t tell others how to run their own governments. China doesn’t interfere with others’ domestic affairs and just wants to do business and realize win-win cooperation.

Opening the conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged various countries to treat each other as equals for the peaceful coexistence of civilizations. Various civilizations are not destined to clash. The intensifying global challenges humanity are facing now require concerted efforts from countries across the world, Xi said, highlighting the role of culture to cope with common challenges.

Xi-proposed event is highly relevant in the current political environment. It will boost understanding among different civilizations and pave the way for a brighter future for humanity. Xi noted there would be no clash of civilizations as long as people were able to appreciate the beauty of all civilizations. It is foolish to believe that one’s race and civilization are superior to others. It is disastrous to willfully reshape or even replace other civilizations.

The Chinese president raised a four-point proposal to consolidate the cultural foundation of jointly building a community with a shared future for Asia and humanity: treating each other with respect and as equals; appreciating the beauty of all civilizations; adhering to openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning; and keeping pace with the times. Equality, reciprocity, diversity and multi-directionality are underscored in exchanges among civilizations. The exchanges, Xi said, should neither be compulsory or forced, nor one-directional.

Asia, with two-thirds of the global population, is a major birthplace of human civilization and home to vibrant cultures. There are 47 countries and more than 1,000 ethnic groups on the continent. Asians expect a peaceful, stable, open and integrated continent with common prosperity, Xi said. The Chinese president’s take on civilization has won broad support from conference attendees. When he talked about discarding arrogance and prejudice to treat each other as equals, there was a round of applause, another professor at Peking University. That was really a show of approval.

Actually clash of civilizations argument is a huge mistake therefore different civilizations must respect each other, enhance mutual learning through dialogue and exchanges and draw upon each other’s strengths. Civilizations are not meant to make war as there is no clash of civilizations but complementarity between them. Chinese proposal will address challenges such as global deficits in governance, trust, peace and development.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at the opening of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations echoed by many as his vision inspires hope for a brighter future for Asia and humanity. At the grand gathering, Xi said that the intensifying global challenges humanity are facing now require concerted efforts from countries across the world, highlighting the role of culture and civilization to cope with common challenges.

History tells that pursuing the superiority of one’s own people and culture causes great tragedies to mankind, The principles of mutual respect and equal treatment should be adhered to by all to address our common challenges. Inside and outside its venue, the conference was widely hailed as a new platform for civilizations in Asia and beyond to engage in dialogue and exchanges on an equal footing and to facilitate mutual learning. Chinese president raised a four-point proposal to consolidate the cultural foundation of a community with a shared future for Asia and humanity: treating each other with respect and as equals; appreciating the beauty of all civilizations; adhering to openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning; and keeping pace with the times.

It’s important that we live in a world where we work out how to listen to each other’s opinions. We work out to collaborate closer together. What we’ve been hearing in this conference again and again is about the need for mutual respect. Likewise, it is a very good initiative to have a dialogue between civilizations, at the time when a lot of changes are happening (pertaining to) religious and economic diversity. Increasing reciprocal openness and working on people-to-people exchanges and mutual learning can help strengthen cultural ties between civilizations.
Such an approach can work only if we all reject superiority attitudes.

About Amna Malik 40 Articles
Author is the President, Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR) and Editor-in-Chief of ‘Mélange int’l Magazine’ and ‘ The Asian Telegraph’.