Home Diplomatic Suite Xi to address Asian Civilizations conference in Beijing

Xi to address Asian Civilizations conference in Beijing

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By Li Ruohan and Zhang Ao

Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations on May 15 in Beijing, a senior official said Thursday. 
With the theme “exchanges and mutual learning among Asian civilizations and a community with a shared future,” the conference includes an opening ceremony and sub-forums, Xu Lin, director of the State Council Information Office, said at a press conference on Thursday.
More than 2,000 government officials and representatives from 47 Asian countries and other countries outside the region will attend the ceremony and forums, said Xu, also vice president of the event’s executive committee. 
Chinese scholars noted that the event is another public good offered by China to boost international exchanges and development following the Belt and Road Initiative forum and the horticultural expo this year. The conference is expected to further revive Asian cultures and promote world peace. 
“Asia is the cradle of the early civilizations of China, India and Babylon and has witnessed a splendid cultural boom since ancient times,” Xu Liping, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The continent, which is now an engine of world economic growth, also needs to revive its cultures to increase soft power and make their development more sustainable and dynamic.”
Liu Jian, a CASS research fellow, said that despite remarkable economic progress, Asian countries also need to revive their cultures for a deeper global influence. 
The value of Asian civilizations should be rediscovered by the world and the cultural confidence of the Asian people should be further enhanced, which in turn will promote the development of world civilizations, Liu told the Global Times.
The conference is a platform for Asian countries to bridge ancient philosophy with modern development, said Chinese observers. 
After the 15th century, some civilizations on the continent fell or collapsed in exchange or in clashes with Western civilizations, Xu noted.
Asian civilizations need to find their internal drive to enrich their cultures instead of chasing Western ideas as in recent decades, Xu said. 
Asia, which has two-thirds of the world population, over 1,000 ethnic groups and diverse cultures including Islam, Christianity, as well as Indian and Chinese civilizations, is eligible to be a model of cultural exchanges and integration, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said at the Thursday conference.
More than 110 activities, including an Asian cultural carnival that is expected to gather about 30,000 people from home and abroad, as well as an Asian civilizations week and Asian food festival, will be held during the event.
“The rising populism and the hyping of civilization clashes makes it more necessary for countries to forge consensus to drive cooperation, and the conference is a chance for them to stay closer, instead of drifting apart with uncertainties in the world,” Zhang Shengjun, an international politics professor at Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times.
The world is divided on many issues and the conference is a trial for countries to reach consensus, said Zhang. 
“The world cannot go back to the time when different races, cultures and countries were in confrontation,” he said. “It’s a harmful mind-set to politicize every public product China offers to the world.”
Culture should not be a hurdle to a country’s development, no matter whether the hurdle comes from internal threats such as extreme religions or from conflicts of different cultures, Zhang said. 

Confrontation not on agenda 
Asked whether China aims to exert greater influence or unite Asian civilizations to counter pressure from Western countries, Xu stressed that “cultural confrontation” was not the agenda of the event. 
“We have noted some narrative that hyped the wrestling, conflicts and confrontation of Eastern and Western cultures,” Xu said.
“If such narratives come from misunderstandings, it only makes the conference a necessary, valuable and significant move for cultural exchanges. However, if such rhetoric comes from ulterior motives to incite friction and confrontation, it is doomed to fail,” he said.
Hosting events to enhance exchange and mutual development of different cultures shows China’s responsibility to promote world peace, Xu stressed. 
Scholars and guests from 50 countries outside of Asia are also invited, Vice Foreign Minister Kong said at the Thursday press conference. They come from art, literature, media and think tanks in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Oceania, he said.
Newspaper headline: Xi to address Asian event



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