‘Di­ver­sity drives progress’

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By WU JIAO and LI XIANG in Paris and ZHAO XINYING in Bei­jing

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping quoted ex­ten­sively Vic­tor Hugo, Napoleon Bon­a­parte and Chi­nese his­to­rian Zuo Qi­um­ing in giv­ing his views on civ­i­liza­tion dur­ing a ma­jor speech on Thurs­day.

He stressed that Chi­nese civ­i­liza­tion, along with oth­ers, will pro­vide mankind with the right cul­tural guid­ance and strong mo­ti­va­tion.

“Civ­i­liza­tions have be­come richer and more col­or­ful with ex­changes and mu­tual learn­ing,” Xi said at the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion head­quar­ters in Paris on the third day of his visit to France.

Such ex­changes and mu­tual learn­ing are an im­por­tant driver of hu­man progress and global peace and de­vel­op­ment, said Xi, the first Chi­nese pres­i­dent to visit the head­quar­ters.

“A sin­gle flower does not make spring, while one hun­dred flow­ers in full blos­som bring spring to the gar­den,” Xi said.

He drew on this pop­u­lar Chi­nese say­ing to ex­plain that civ­i­liza­tions have come in dif­fer­ent shades and such di­ver­sity has made ex­changes and mu­tual learn­ing among civ­i­liza­tions rel­e­vant and valu­able.

He also said he had vis­ited both the Lou­vre Mu­seum in France and the Palace Mu­seum in China, say­ing, “They are at­trac­tive be­cause they present the rich­ness of di­verse civ­i­liza­tion.”

Xi said he be­lieved all hu­man civ­i­liza­tions are of equal value, that there is no per­fect civ­i­liza­tion in the

• See more, world, nor is there a civ­i­liza­tion that is de­void of merit. In short, no one civ­i­liza­tion can be judged su­pe­rior to an­other.

The ocean is vast, for it re­fuses no rivers, Xi said, quot­ing a well-known Chi­nese say­ing.

“Civ­i­liza­tions are in­clu­sive, and such in­clu­sive­ness has given ex­changes and mu­tual learn­ing among civ­i­liza­tions the drive needed to move for­ward,” he said.

If all civ­i­liza­tion can up­hold in­clu­sive­ness, a so-called clash of civ­i­liza­tions will be out of the ques­tion and the har­mony of civ­i­liza­tions will be­come re­al­ity, the pres­i­dent added.

Turn­ing to Vic­tor Hugo, Xi said the French nov­el­ist once said that there is a prospect greater than the sea, and it is the sky; there is a prospect greater than the sky, and it is the hu­man soul. “In­deed, we need a mind that is broader than the sky as we ap­proach dif­fer­ent civ­i­liza­tions,” Xi said.

To bet­ter ap­pre­ci­ate the value of dif­fer­ent civ­i­liza­tions, ed­u­ca­tion’s role is unique, he said.

To il­lus­trate the ur­gency of de­vel­op­ing ed­u­ca­tion, the pres­i­dent quoted Napoleon Bon­a­parte’s say­ing, “There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run, the sword will al­ways be con­quered by the spirit.”

He also shared his views on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Chi­nese Dream and Chi­nese civ­i­liza­tion.

The Chi­nese people are striv­ing to ful­fill the Chi­nese Dream of great re­newal of the Chi­nese na­tion, and as they pur­sue the dream they will en­cour­age cre­ative shifts and in­no­va­tive de­vel­op­ment of Chi­nese civ­i­liza­tion, he said.

This civ­i­liza­tion and oth­ers in the world are all the fruit of hu­man progress, Xi said.

“We need to in­ject new vi­tal­ity into Chi­nese civ­i­liza­tion by en­er­giz­ing all cul­tural el­e­ments that tran­scend time, space and na­tional borders and that pos­sess both per­pet­ual ap­peal and cur­rent value,” he said.

Ramzi San­bar, a French busi­ness­man who lis­tened to Xi’s speech, said it was a very good sum­mary of China’s cul­ture and soft power.

“The essence of the speech made for a good mix of the an­cient and the new China,” he said. “The most in­ter­est­ing parts were the ideas on the di­ver­sity of civ­i­liza­tions and that no one (civ­i­liza­tion) is su­pe­rior to the other.”

Be­fore mak­ing his speech, Xi met with Irina Bokova, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of UNESCO, on Thurs­day morn­ing and spoke highly of the UN agency’s role in ad­vo­cat­ing cul­tural di­ver­sity and gen­der equal­ity.

To sup­port UNESCO’s ed­u­ca­tion en­deav­ors, China will of­fer 75 scholarships ev­ery year through the agency to spon­sor teach­ers from African and other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. The num­ber of scholarships used to be 25 a year.

Also on Thurs­day, Xi’s wife Peng Liyuan was named spe­cial UNESCO en­voy for the pro­mo­tion of young girls’ and women’s ed­u­ca­tion.

Ab­hi­manyu Singh, di­rec­tor and rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the UNESCO Bei­jing Of­fice, said it has con­ducted ex­ten­sive co­op­er­a­tion with all par­ties in China.

“The UNESCO Bei­jing Of­fice is also com­mit­ted to con­tribut­ing to UNESCO’s mis­sion in the re­gion, ad­dress­ing the so­cial, en­vi­ron­men­tal, eco­nomic and cul­tural di­men­sions of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment since its es­tab­lish­ment in 1984,” Singh said.

France is the sec­ond leg of Xi’s four­coun­try Euro­pean tour, which will take him to Ger­many on Fri­day.

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