Chi­nese, for­eign ex­perts talk of shared val­ues of Silk Road pro­gram

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - By YANG YANG yangyangs@chi­

Putting onions and car­rots to­gether will make soup both de­li­cious and nu­tri­tious.

This is an in­ter­pre­ta­tion of har­mony — the Con­fu­cian phi­los­o­phy that is at the core of the Chi­nese civ­i­liza­tion — which is also the spirit be­hind China’s co­op­er­a­tion with other coun­tries, big and small, es­pe­cially with re­gard to the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, Thad­deus Metz, a pro­fes­sor of phi­los­o­phy and re­li­gion with the Uni­ver­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg in South Africa, said in a speech at the 2017 Sym­po­sium on Chi­nese Stud­ies ear­lier this week.

Co-hosted by the Min­istry of Cul­ture and the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences first in 2013, the sym­po­sium has been aim­ing to build a pro­fes­sional plat­form for ex­change of thoughts among schol­ars from home and over­seas.

This year, 26 ex­perts on China stud­ies and in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions from 22 coun­tries joined 20 Chi­nese schol­ars to ex­change ideas on the theme: the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive in global view.

“We can also find the Con­fu­cian thought of ‘har­mony’ in the win-win co­op­er­a­tions, that is, two very dif­fer­ent sides work to­gether to do a pro­ject that will ben­e­fit both sides,” says Metz.

Metz was one of many speak­ers who dug out Chi­nese main­stream an­cient thoughts to in­ter­pret the co­op­er­a­tion mode un­der the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

“For thou­sands of years, Chi­nese peo­ple have talked about the con­cept of ‘ land un­der heaven’. For Chi­nese peo­ple, har­mony on the land un­der heaven is built on com­pas­sion, to love and re­spect any­one in the world fairly,” says Wang Keping, a re­searcher on aes­thet­ics with the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.

“Now through the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, we also have the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment for mu­tual ben­e­fit, open­ness and tol­er­ance,” he says.

Liu Mengxi, di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute of Chi­nese Cul­ture at the Chi­nese Na­tional Academy of Arts, talked about the clas­sic Con­fu­cian thought “do unto oth­ers as you would have them do unto you” to ex­plain China’s re­la­tions with the world to­day, es­pe­cially when China is the world’s sec­ond-largest econ­omy with an in­creas­ing in­flu­ence that may worry many other coun­tries.

Mod­ern China is re­spon­si­ble not only for its own des­tiny but is likely to in­flu­ence the whole world, says Is­mat­ulla Bek­mu­ra­tov, dean of the fac­ulty of world pol­icy, his­tory and phi­los­o­phy at Tashkent State In­sti­tute of Ori­en­tal Stud­ies.

“But China firmly re­fuses to im­pose its own de­vel­op­ment mode on other coun­tries.”

China will not im­pose its own val­ues on other coun­tries, ei­ther, as many speak­ers agreed, but will re­spect diver­sity in dif­fer­ent cul­tures.

Yuan Zhengqing, who stud­ies China’s diplo­macy at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, says that in the 5,000-year de­vel­op­ment of Chi­nese civ­i­liza­tion, Chi­nese peo­ple have pur­sued peace and har­mony. The rule of the Yuan Dy­nasty (1271-1368) was an ex­cep­tion, he says.

“So while we pur­sue the de­vel­op­ment of our own coun­try, China will also care about the in­ter­ests of oth­ers,” he says. “China wants to pro­mote di­a­logue among dif­fer­ent cul­tures.”

Martin Al­brow, fel­low of the Academy of So­cial Sciences in Bri­tain, talks about how some pre­dic­tions in the 1970s by a so­ci­ol­o­gist from Har­vard Uni­ver­sity did not hap­pen.

“He said the world would be gov­erned by the­ory. This has not hap­pened in the West. I would sug­gest to you that it is hap­pen­ing in China, one of the most im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tions that China is mak­ing to the world to­day is gen­er­at­ing a new the­ory for the world we are go­ing to live in,” he says.

If shar­ing val­ues is em­pha­sized, we need to un­der­stand the diver­sity of ideas.

“We have to work to­ward cre­at­ing com­mon val­ues. This is how the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive can work in prac­tice.”

We have to work to­ward cre­at­ing com­mon val­ues. This is how the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive can work in prac­tice.” Martin Al­brow, ex­pert with the Academy of So­cial Sciences in Bri­tain


Ex­perts from home and abroad at­tend the 2017 Sym­po­sium on Chi­nese Stud­ies in Bei­jing to dis­cuss the global in­flu­ence of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

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