Keynote Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the 6th Annual Conference of Taihu World Cultural Forum


Yan  Zhao  zhu


Your Excellency Vice Chairman Wang Chen,

Your Excellency President Laurent Fabius,

Your Excellency Prince Norodom Chakravudth,

Your Excellency Mr. Romano Prodi,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,

Good morning! First of all, I’d like to thank His Excellencies President Ilham Aliyev of the Republic of Azerbaijan, President Rumen Radev of the Republic of Bulgaria, King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia for their letters of congratulation. I also sincerely thank Vice Chairman Wang Chen for his important speech. On behalf of Taihu World Cultural Forum and in my own name, I wish to extend a warm welcome to all the guests attending the conference in person or online, and sincere greetings and best wishes to all old and new friends, heartfelt thanks to all international friends, experts, scholars and friends from all walks of life, as well as government agencies, cultural and academic groups, enterprises and public institutions, especially Anhui Provincial Government and Bengbu Municipal Government who have supported and participated in the preparatory work of this Annual Conference.

Dear Friends,

A series of global challenges such as COVID-19 pandemic and climate change have had a huge impact on all aspects of human society. At the same time, the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, and mankind has once again come to the crossroads of history. What is the most significant change under this situation? It is China's peaceful development and great achievements. It is Asia's rising shares in the world economy and it is developing countries that have embarked on the fast track of the development. In just over 40 years, China has grown from scratch to the world's second largest economy, largest industrial country and second largest scientific and technological power. In recent years, China has contributed around 30% to world economic growth, a development miracle rarely seen in human history. Over the past half century and more, Asian countries and regions have maintained steady growth, with their share of the world economy rising from 15 percent in 1990 to 49.5 percent in 2019. The rise of emerging economies and developing countries represented by BRICS is also accelerating. An increasing number of politicians, scholars and media believe that the current world political and economic structure is undergoing profound adjustment and the center of gravity of the global economy is shifting eastward. Today, the realization of the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has become irreversible, and the pursuit of development by the majority of the world's countries and nations has become irresistible.

Major changes unseen in a century have brought not only bright prospects and major opportunities to the world, but also turbulence and challenges. China's peaceful development and achievements have cheered the people of most countries, but dismayed others. The sole superpower, in despite of bipartisan opposition and holding each other back for a long time, is rare to have reached a consensus on issues about China, disappointed that China, in the process of its modernization, did not realize political transition of which they took the unilateral idea, thought that China's own road and brilliant achievements posed systematic, disruptive challenges to western political system. Sometimes they willfully walked away from international organizations and commitments, sometimes they gathered allies, and attempted to block China's development by means of isolation, strike, confrontation, encirclement and suppression. Their responses to China's development and changes in the world are thought-provoking. Should the development path of every sovereign state be designed and arranged by a superpower? Is taking a different path from the West a threat? Can't different social systems coexist in peace and develop together? This is indeed a very serious political problem, but also a fundamentally important cultural problem.

Dear Friends,

Can different civilizations and values communicate, coexist and learn from each other? Can different social systems coexist peacefully and cooperate for win-win outcomes? The answer bears on the future of the world and mankind. The annual conference this year is themed “Mutual Learning Among Civilizations: Jointly Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind”, has set up six thematic sub-forums, invited people from all walks of life, focusing on topics of major issues like cultural diversity, “Belt and Road”, global challenges like epidemic prevention, ecological construction, poverty alleviation, and development of science and technology, to make discussion in a multi-angle, multi-dimensional perspective, and to fully exchange views, so as to make our cultural choice and contribution for the future of the human development.

Historically, there has never been only one social system or civilization. Different social systems and cultures can coexist peacefully, learn from each other in an inclusive way. The historical experience of the Silk Road is the most powerful proof. The spirit of Silk Road forged through long-term exchanges among countries along the road like peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit, which date back thousands of years, are going as strong as ever. The Belt and Road Initiative, which carries forward the spirit of Silk Road, is a strategy for common development of countries along the road and an important way and long-term solution to promote global peace and prosperity. We need to recall the common historical memory of the Silk Road and open a new chapter of mutual respect, mutual trust, peaceful development and win-win cooperation through consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits in the new era.

At present, one global challenge after another has posed a serious threat to the survival and development of mankind. Despite differences in political systems, values, social and historical backgrounds and levels of economic development, countries face common challenges and share a common destiny. We should work together to overcome difficulties. The spread of COVID-19 knows no borders or ethnic groups. It calls for mutual assistance, solidarity and cooperation from all countries. The consequences of climate change are becoming more and more serious. It is imperative for the world to strengthen coordination and cooperation, promote green economic development and healthy lifestyles, strengthen ecological progress, and restore the harmony between human and nature. The task of global poverty reduction is arduous and complex. China's comprehensive victory in eradicating absolute poverty has made a historic contribution to global poverty reduction. All countries need to strengthen cooperation and learn from each other to eradicate poverty and achieve peaceful development. Science and technology is a double-edged sword. We need to strengthen international cooperation to promote scientific and technological progress for the benefit of mankind, and work together to curb many risks that may bring about.

Dear Friends,

We have come to a major turning point in human history. Where should mankind go from here? What kind of future are we striving for? About which people all over the world are concerned and thinking. We stand for strengthening exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity. To this end, our conference should foster a sound atmosphere of discussion, in which all participants exchange views on an equal footing, jointly pursue truth and advance the times. Here, I would like to share with you the following proposals:

First, we advocate an atmosphere of meeting based on equality and mutual respect.

We're here to talk and communicate. We are from different countries with different customs, social backgrounds and beliefs. In the face of common challenges and profound changes in the world, it is not surprising that people have different opinions and views. We call for dialogue rather than confrontation, consultation rather than accusation, and inclusiveness rather than decoupling. Equality and mutual respect are the basic prerequisites for dialogue and communication. Only when we respect each other on an equal footing can we hear each other's voices, understand each other's views, and understand the causes of differences. In this way, we can seek common ground while putting aside differences, learn from each other, remove misunderstandings and misjudgments, and enhance consensus and cooperation.

What often impedes our communication nowadays is arrogance, ignorance, and prejudice, and prejudice is farther from truth than ignorance. Unfortunately, human beings have gone through a period of colonial era, a few countries bully the majority of countries, strong countries bully the weak, this racial discrimination, colonial prejudice used to be accustomed to, so far intractable. If we want to eliminate prejudice and discrimination in communication, we should not only abandon the hegemonic mentality, but also clean up the historical garbage left by the colonial era. No matter how far we go, we can't forget the road we came to today. We must not forget the teachings of our ideological pioneers. Human beings have always insisted on equality and mutual respect. In China, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism all believe that "all men under the four seas are brothers" and that all living beings are equal. Western Christianity preaches that people is equal in God; The US Declaration of Independence also advocated that “all men are created equal”... We should respond to the wisdom of our ancestors, treat others as equals, respect each other, and be inclusive.

Second, we call for a rational and fact-based meeting.

We are here to learn and find solutions. The purpose of exchanging opinions is to eliminate the false and retain the true, so that the truth of the facts can be revealed to the world and the objective truth can illuminate the course of our journey forward. As the Russian proverb says, “Truth strides near, lies must flee.” We advocate real respect for facts. At no time should "political correctness" cover up the world as it really is, nor should we be blinded by the interests of narrow cliques or make irresponsible remarks that go against our conscience. Arguments should be based on facts as well as verified and accurate statistics. Do not make groundless claims out of thin air, and do not go against common sense or make unreasonable arguments. Right and wrong have their own reasons, and justice is in people's hearts. "With justice on your side, you can go anywhere; without it, you can't take a step. Even if it is backed by hegemony and led by “gunboats”, it will not be far. As Mencius, the Chinese philosopher, aptly puts it: “those who stand with morality receive wide support and those who go against it receive little. When the little reaches the top, even relatives will betray them, when the wide reaches the top, the world will follow.” The truth and nature of things will be revealed to the world and the heart.

Third, we call for a meeting that responds to the challenges of the times and the needs of the people.

The German poet Heinrich Heine once said, “Every era has its major topics, to which the solution will push human society forward”. What are the topics of our times? The world has gone through the colonial era, the developing countries, represented by China are becoming more and more independent, developing rapidly, have become the important force to be reckoned with on the international stage, how to deal with different social systems and cultural traditions, values, economic development stage of the relationship between the country and people, this is the topics of our times; while the industrial revolution created huge material wealth, promoted social progress, it also bred the one-sided idea that human can rule nature, infinitely consume natural resources, which causes damage to the balance of human and nature. This is the topics of our times that how all humanity learn each other, unite and cooperate to cope with the challenges of climate change, to rebuild the relationship between human and nature; Along with the acceleration of economic development and urbanization, countries are becoming more and more closely connected, and large-scale infectious diseases have repeatedly raged around the world. How to strengthen international cooperation and build a community of health for mankind is the topic of our times. These topics concern the fundamental interests and future of hundreds of millions of people around the world. All mankind should fully understand the seriousness of these topics, jointly respond to, explore and solve these topics, and strive to push our era forward.

History clearly shows that the people are the creators of history and masters of the times. The fundamental interests of the people are the essential pursuit of the topics of our times. To answer the challenges and solve the topics of our times is to respond to people's expectations and fulfill their interests. We must concentrate to understand our times, grasp the pulse of the times, do our own work well, and realize the interests of our people. We should strengthen international cooperation and coordination, do a good job in world affairs and benefit the people of the world. We have always maintained that the affairs of a country should be decided by its own people and international affairs should be handled through consultation among all countries. People of all countries should unite to meet the challenges of the times and build a better world.

Dear Friends,

The building of a community with a shared future for mankind represents mankind's ardent expectation and unswerving pursuit of a world of great harmony and a bright future shared by all. We must work together, make unremitting search, work together to a better tomorrow. Here, I sincerely wish you all a pleasant stay in Bengbu, to make cordial exchange of eastern and western cultures on the dividing line between north and south China, and make greater contribution to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

In conclusion, I wish you all good health and happiness!

Thank you!


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