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《Paris Summit》

Speech from Deputy Chairwoman Zhang Meiying of 11th CPPCC in Opening Ceremony

Enabling the Silk Road of Thoughts to Be Shining Forever

Ms. Zhang Meiying,Deputy Chairwoman of 11th CPPCC, Honorary Chairwoman of Taihu World Cultural Forum

 

Distinguished Mr. Raffarin, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the beautiful day of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France, we hold the Forum on “The Silk Road--The Eternal Channel for Cultural Communications Between China and Western Countries” in Paris, the fascinating city for freedom, to communicate with each other about culture, an eternal theme for communications among countries and people for different generations. I am very honored to attend this Forum and regard it as a good opportunity to have exchanges of thoughts, promote consensus and enhance mutual understandings and trust. I know that many distinguished guests took your research outcomes and wisdom here. Please allow me to express my sincere welcome to all scholars specializing in different majors and pay my high tribute to Chairman Raffarin, who has made excellent contributions to the successful convening of this Forum in Paris.

In my memory, I felt the infinite space of imagination for the first time I heard the beautiful name of “the Silk Road”, which lasts from ancient times till today, covers the areas of business trade and culture, accumulates a lot in the history and enjoys a promising future. I believe there has already been a Silk Road for culture and thoughts between China and France during our long-term friendly exchanges, extending from the past till today. It inspires me a lot to seek for it and attend today’s conference.

We all know that there was a “Sinomania” lasting for half a century in France in 18th century, which then radiated to the European continent while there was also a long-time“France-mania”in China in the 19th century. Even so far, French classics and famous masterpieces on philosophy and literature exert profound influence on the thoughts and behaviors of Chinese people for generations. Chinese people know more about France through the works of a group of great litterateurs,thinkers and artists including Voltaire, Rousseau, Hugo,Balzac,Rodin, etc. while French people understand the ancient Chinese thoughts and culture through Chinese sages like ConfuciusMenciusLaozi, Zhuangzi, etc.. For hundreds of years, Chinese and French people have appreciated and have been attracted by the profound history and splendid culture of each other, showing special preference mutually. A Chinese scholar, in his life spent in rural area 30 years ago, ever copied many works of Romain Rolland and another Chinese writer wrote a book recently called Taking A Book to Pariswidely attracting readers’ attention, which vividly demonstrated this cultural attractiveness.

Today we feel it is so meaningful when we take a review of this period of history. 50 years ago, General Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle, the highest leader of France, with his greatest loving for China, successfully built the friendship between China and France, which has developed prosperously even so far. At that time when the whole world was in “cold war”status, our two great countries could launch a new era of friendly relationship between our two countries and set up a good example of peaceful co-existence between countries with different social systems and cultural traditions through exceeding the limit of ideology and political institutions, which obviously heavily relied on continuous cultural exchanges and integration of the two countries for a long time. I think the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France is far more than bilateral relations and has far-reaching influence in the whole world.

   

Just within these 50 years, human history experienced a series of major transformative changes. After the “cold war”, the world pattern gradually developed into co-existence of many countries from the confrontation of two big powers, demonstrating that extreme confrontation was the past while peace and development became the mainstream of the world. Countries with different social systems and national cultures became opening to each other from isolation in the past and different political powers and philosophical values became harmony in diversity from only showing their own power and achieving their goals. In this changing process, due to the conflicts among different civilizations, human beings have paid the price for that seriously and unusually. Exchanges between China and France were kept stable all the time and stood serious test of history because of their strong cultural foundation, when the world was in turbulence, separation and restructuring. If we take a close look at this period of history, we can learn and get enlightenment from it since the thoughts and cross-cultural communications and practices in it are very precious. China and France, through their history of exchanges for 50 years,

demonstrate that huge inclusiveness of culture could effectively promote dialogues, understandings, friendship and cooperation among different political systems and ideologies. It is always said that “France is China in Europe while China is France in Asia.” --a metaphor showing special positions of China and France as two big powers in culture in Chinese and Western culture. This typical example is still rare to see in current international society and thus is worth of our learning.

The foundation of friendly exchanges and cultural communications between China and France is people and the future heavily relies on the youth. On January 27th of the year celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France, there was a ceremony held in front of the statue of General Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle located on the Champs Elysees in Paris, which is the first activity held by France to commemorate the 50th anniversary. Two French young people will start their journey there and ride bicycle to Beijing, China alongside the Silk Road. They will ride on the Silk Road again for tens of thousands miles to re-experience that period of history and witness the source and development of cultural exchanges between Chinese and Western cultures, including the past and the present, materials and people, the form and the spirits. There is a concern expressed in Chinese poem that “I see no people did it before and no one can do it later.” However, young people in current age show their optimistic attitude that “Some one did it before and some one will do it better in the future.” to the whole world. The passion to art, pursuit to civilization, respect to culture and worship to ancient sages between our two peoples will be fully embodied again in the experience of embarking on the Silk Road by these two young people again. Beijing really expects to see these two new-generation cultural envoys from France.

I also review the Silk Road of cultural thoughts when they embark on the Silk Road again and get the following enlightenment:

Each culture has its special features and values. Diversity is not only limited in the nature but also the basic feature of human society. We should respect independent spirit and quality of each culture and advocate cultural diversity while cultural hegemony and cultural unilateralism violate natural and social principles and rules.

Cultural differences represent richness of culture, which shouldn’t be the reason or cause of conflicts. Different cultures and civilizations have their own advantages and thus require to be mutually learned. Equal dialogues among different civilizations and cultures should be promoted. We should seek for common grounds while shelving differences and learn from others’ strong points to offset the weakness in order to seek for common development. To be in conflicts or in harmony of the world in the future greatly relies on exclusion or integration among civilizations.

The best protection and inheritance of national culture is the development and creation based on the foundation of traditional culture, rather than total cultural replacement of traditional one. The better the cultural subjectivity is protected, the more ability it will have to absorb the excellent elements of foreign cultures. It means that traditional culture needs to keep up with the times in order to develop itself during inheritance and innovate more in development.

Cultural communications exist both in the basic level and the highest level of relations among countries. Interactions of soft power with culture as the starting point could promote political mutual trust and economic cooperation, as well as enhance people-to-people exchanges and mutual understandings. This cooperative partnership will have stronger and more solid civil foundation, being more reliable.

Therefore, I consider this Forum as a new starting point of the Silk Road of thoughts and culture between China and Western countries. Sino -France cultural communications will start a new journey. To conclude my today’s speech, I would like to quote a sentence from distinguished Mr. Edgar Morin, the contemporary French thinker,in his book called “Introduction of Politics of People”--

“The road we hope to follow up is open. That is to continue human’s pursuit for conscience, love and science, which has lasted for thousands of years, to continue to promote different thoughts on pursuing these targets and to gather them together;... keeping moving forward with the expectation of conducting huge and great changes of the society....”

Ladies and gentlemen, spring represents life and growth in nature and cultivates the future and hope.

Let’s bring the Sino-France friendship into full blossom!

And enable the Silk Road of thoughts to be shining forever.

Than you, Mr. Chairman! Than you all!.

 

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