太湖世界文化论坛

《The Fourth Annual Conference》

Unanimous Considerations, Different Paths, Same Destination

--Reflections on the "Community of Shared Future for Mankind"

Zhang Meiying

Ladies and gentlemen:

 

With the theme of "Jointly Building a New Civilization with a Community of Shared Future for Mankind", this Forum is held in the Macau Special Administrative Region where the policy of "one country, two systems" has been successfully implemented.

 

(A) To honor commitment and take practical actions with concept and practice

Three years ago, during his visit to Russia, Chinese President Xi Jinping first proposed the concept of "community of shared future for mankind" in a speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. Since then, he has repeatedly mentioned the idea on different occasions and tried to start the process of moving from concept to practice. This is the modern manifestation of the ancient Chinese concept of "the common good" and the inheritance and development of the excellent tradition of "integration of commitment and practice" in Chinese culture.

 

The ancient Chinese thinkers advocated a world of common good. It requires the world to strive together for the goal, instead of for the selfish interests of one person, one family or even one country. It requires us "to apply our moral excellency to world affairs", that is, to influence and educate others with good virtues and culturally advanced life, instead of bending others by power. In the relations between nations, we should follow the concept and behavior of "good faith and goodwill" and "generosity not for returns", and even if there are fierce conflicts, we should seek to "turn the conflict into peace". From Confucius in the time immemorial to Kang Youwei in the late Qing Dynasty, intellectuals have been adhering to this ideal.

 

The concept of "community of shared future for mankind" also finds its origin in the West. In his later years, Kant proposed the concept of "permanent peace" based on the concept of global citizenship and the principle of benevolent will, Fourier and Owen brought about "utopian socialism," and Marx and Engels brought to us scientific socialism. All of them bear expectation that the destiny of human beings tend to be better together.

 

The concept of "community of shared future for mankind" is the latest result of the exchange and convergence of Eastern and Western ideas. Among them, the role of "Eastern learning introduced into China" cannot be underestimated. The German philosopher Leibniz strongly advocated learning Chinese thinking and culture to develop Europe, and his idea of "the harmony of the world's multiple cultures" was a strong resonance of ancient Chinese thinking and culture. The French thinker Voltaire, after translating and studying Chinese texts, was amazed at "the discovery of a new spiritual and material world in the East". The contemporary British historian Toynbee believes that China's "wisdom of integration and harmony" will give infinite inspiration to the future of mankind.

 

In ancient China, there have been many examples of ethnic and cultural integration. The European Community (EC) and the European Union (EU) merit the name of local practice of the community of shared future for mankind in the Western world. From the perspective of international reality, whether and how to deal with the interrelationship among different civilizations in the world today is crucial to the construction of the "community of shared future for mankind".

 

In September and October 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the "Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)". More recently, China launched the "Long Term Objective and Action Plan on the Belt and Road Initiative". This vision connects more than 70 countries in the most culturally and politically diverse region with the most multiple systems of civilizations of the world into a circle of friends. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have been making frequent visits to introduce the concept, content, and guidelines of BRI to these countries and seek consensus on cooperation. Currently, infrastructure is being interconnected, financial support is basically in place, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank ADB and Silk Road Fund are officially operating, and international capacity cooperation is being launched ......

 

The Chinese government is committed to materialize BRI, which aims to foster a community of interests and responsibilities, to integrate development in many countries, to achieve interconnectivity, political communication, cultural integration and win-win sharing, and to establish a long-term cooperation mechanism, so as to ultimately realize the prosperity of the community of shared future for mankind. This is a great practice of the Chinese government to benefit the country, the people, and the world from the height of global governance.

 

(B) Inclusiveness and mutual learning, peace and development

 

The history of mankind tells the story of different peoples, regions, and countries from seeking development alone to seeking development together. Different nations and countries have accumulated different experiences on development and created huge material wealth. Experiences, both positive and negative, are hugely amassed. The wealth generated, regardless of its owner, is tremendously huge.

 

If there was a stable and peaceful environment and sharing mechanism, these rich experiences and huge wealth could have provided the basis for the common development of human beings in the era of globalization. Unfortunately, thousands of years after civilizations came to being, mankind has not been able to eradicate killing and persecution. Hegemony was just showing sign of declining when resource plundering roils on and terrorism rapidly rises. The polarization that has emerged in the era of economic globalization has led to injustice, resentment, hatred, hostility, and even violent terrorist activities. There have been several manifestations of this since the turn of the century, starting with the extreme terrorist attacks of September 11. From Iraq, Egypt, Libya to Syria, the misdeeds of hegemonic states have placed the aforementioned countries and regions in chaos. Local governments and governance institutions have been disrupted or destroyed with the normal order lost, leading to an anarchic vacuum of factionalism and religious fanaticism in the region, which precisely provides space for the Islamic State to take shape and expand. Terrorism against humanity poses a great danger to common human development.

 

From history to reality, there are three basic attitudes in the face of the claim and practice of the community of shared future for mankind. First, rejection and resistance: that against both the exchange of foreign cultures and the innovation of our own culture; second, tolerance and inclusiveness: understanding the individuality of different cultures and respecting the existence of different systems; third: mutual learning: actively engaging in cultural dialogue and cooperation and drawing on the nutrients of different forms of civilization.

 

We agree with and appreciate the latter two attitudes. Firstly, it is an ancient concept, practice, and tradition of the Chinese nation, which has been our way for thousands of years. Secondly, the most profound and fundamental change in the international community's understanding of human destiny today derided from the two world wars in the first half of the last century. People learnt the most painful lessons in history at the cost of dozens of countries and tens of millions of lives. The painful lesson was the result of a fundamental turn in the theme of the times: from war and revolution to peace and development. We risk falling to a reaction against history if we ignore, forget, or reject this reality.

 

The United Nations, which proposed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2010, recognized culture as an indispensable element of sustainable development. The 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development, which entered into force on January 1, 2016, recognizes for the first time at the global level the importance of culture, ingenuity, and cultural diversity in addressing sustainable development challenges.

 

In this sense, reasons abound for us to believe that the concept of "community of shared future for mankind" contains the common and shared interests and values of humanity, and that there is a convergence for interests in international relations. As this concept becomes more widely popular and dogmatic, more members in our society will share in the benefits of peace and development.

 

(C) Unanimity considerations, different paths, same destination

 

Unanimous considerations on different paths towards the same destination — this ancient Chinese saying, as an idiom, is still relevant today, indicating that the Chinese people have been thinking and doing things in this way from ancient times to the present. Over the centuries, it has become a basic attitude for us to view the world, respect differences, understand disagreements, and solve problems and even been engraved in Chinese culture characterized by openness, inclusiveness, communication, and learning.

 

Before the wave of globalization arrived, there was a long period when human society saw different cultural patterns and forms of civilization isolated until the great exploration was carried out. Different peoples explored their own paths of survival and development under their own conditions of resource, humanities, and history, accumulating different experiences and gradually forming social systems suitable for their own that naturally led to the diversity of civilizations.

 

An important feature of Chinese civilization is that it advocates "harmony without conformity". We learn from "differences" and gradually form a "nation of learning". In the Confucian culture, Confucius was not a religious leader in the narrow sense, but a successful educator. "Learning" is a fundamental theme of Confucianism. The first systematic classic of Confucianism is Great Learning, and the first chapter of The Analects of Confucius is entitled "Learning" that starts with a rhetoric question, "Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application? " More importantly, the purpose of learning is to "become a mature person". Learning is the basic way to make "a mature person" out of a human in the cultural sense.

 

This "character of learning" has led to the one and only successful example of civilizational integration in the pre-globalization period in the history: the fusion of Confucianism and Buddhism among the "Four Axes od Civilizations". China has been exposed to Buddhism since the Eastern Han Dynasty in 70 AD. Many projects of translation of Buddhist scriptures by Confucian intellectuals and Buddhists have been carried out for more than 800 years. For a long time, translation affairs were directly supported by the central government. The result was a complete and self-contained "Chinese Buddhism," a rare example in the history of the world of preserving and incorporating another religious civilization in a completely peaceful manner.

 

Such a far-reaching open-mindedness and inclusiveness have gradually formed the national character and given the Chinese nation a positive and open cultural mentality. Even after the detours of the modern era when the country was once closed to the outside world, the powerful force engraved in our gene immediately pushed the nation to start learning from the advanced cultures in the world again in a comprehensive manner once it returned to the mainstream of history. An example of this is the abolition of the imperial examination system in 1905 and the full establishment of a modern education system based on the traditional education system. This led directly to a profound change in the written language of Chinese literature, with 80% of modern Chinese theoretical discourse coming from translations, and even more so in scientific language. Language is a tool for thinking and expression, and the change in language brought about a profound change in the entire spiritual world of the Chinese nation, which in turn revolutionized the material world and the social system. The magnitude and depth of this change is crystal clear to the world.

 

Therefore, the proposal and practice of the concept of "community of shared future for mankind" is the inevitable manifestation of Chinese cultural gene. This concept is great, but even greater is the new cultural outlook of openness, inclusiveness, cooperation, and mutual learning embodied within, which is applicable to the BRI and a wider range of projects. As logic tells, more "belts" and "roads" will form a diverse pattern merging into the "community of shared future for mankind", that will bring peoples on different paths towards the same destination, that is, harmony and prosperity shared by all.

 

Thank you!


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