By Amb. Liu Yuxi
ADDIS ABEBA – The contemporary world is progressing with each passing day in an era of heightened globalization. Civilizations of different countries, with their unique features, are blooming like colorful flowers in a botanical garden. However, there are still some individuals from certain countries who cling onto the old mentality of the Cold War era and propagate the vicious doctrines of “Clash of Civilizations” based on the intoxicating ideas of self-acclaimed righteousness and loftiness, which have raised eyebrows in the international community.
History is the best teacher. With thousands of years of history, the Chinese civilization has persevered in the tradition of enriching itself as the sea’s vastness is only maintained by taking in all the rivers flowing its way. China is committed to building a colorful world that cherishes harmony in differences, where every country appreciates other forms of beauty with openness. We advocate exchanges between civilizations for mutual respect and learning.
It is simply not in the genes of the Chinese people to uplift ourselves at the cost of others or create artificial prejudices between peoples. Nor did China impose colonization, pillage or slavery on others under the banner of civilization. In historical times, Chinese tea, porcelain and silk were transported along the ancient Silk Road to Africa, and African sorghum, watermelon and sesame were introduced to China. Zheng He, the Chinese navigator of the Ming Dynasty, led seven voyages and sailed up to the coast of East Africa, leaving behind him some of the most positive stories of exchanges between Chinese and African civilizations.
China believes that no race or civilization is superior to others. Both China and Africa have colorful civilizations, respectively making indelible contributions to the progress of the world. Chinese and African civilizations embody the people’s aspirations for a better life and national rejuvenation. The peoples of China and Africa have made the choice between cooperation or conflict long before the hyped “Clash of Civilizations”.
Equal treatment is the core underlying China-Africa inter-civilizational exchanges. Similar experiences, struggles, and development tasks render China and Africa natural partners of common thought and action in the fast-changing international arena. Our differences in complexion and languages present no impediment to our connection and complementarity as we stick to the principles of equal treatment and seeking common ground while shelving differences.
China believes that all countries and civilizations are equal regardless of their size, race or wealth. We promote exchanges of the people to facilitate dialogue and communication, support each other on our respective issues of concern and core interests, and respect African countries to explore and choose social systems and development paths befitting their national conditions. We welcome the African solutions to African problems and look forward to carving a new path of inter-civilizational exchanges between developing countries.
Openness and inclusiveness are the cornerstones of China-Africa inter-civilizational exchanges. The Belt and Road Initiative provides a new platform for China and Africa to learn from each other under new circumstances. By joining hands in the BRI, the exchanges, integration, and cooperation of civilizations will transcend misunderstandings and the theory of “Clash of Civilizations” to bring about common development and mutual benefits to China and Africa.
China upholds the ideas of common consultation, joint construction and shared results, and pursues policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and people-to-people affinity. China and Africa are striving to synergize development strategies and strengths, broaden cooperation channels and innovate in cooperation models to support Africa’s industrialization, agricultural modernization and economic integration, thus creating favorable conditions for the exchanges and integration of Chinese and African civilizations, and facilitating the sharing of the dividends of development and openness.
Common cultural prosperity is the inevitable choice in China-Africa inter-civilizational exchanges. A single flower does not make a spring. Diversity and colorfulness of the world’s civilizations are the force powering the development of human society. China-Africa civilizational exchanges are not a one-way street and sustainable development should keep pace with the times.
In recent years, Confucius Institutes and Chinese cultural products are taking roots on the African continent. The Museum of Black Civilizations was opened in Senegal with Chinese aid. Every year, hundreds of African arts groups visit China, events such as Africa Culture in Focus have become an important window for the Chinese people to learn about African arts. The number of annual two-way tourists has risen to around 1.5 million. The pyramids, Lalibela rock-hewn churches, the Great Wall and the Forbidden City have become well-known tourist sites to Chinese and African peoples. China-Africa inter-civilizational exchanges and cooperation serve as a bridge to strengthen understanding between China and Africa and play an exemplary role in inter-civilizational and inter-cultural exchanges and cooperation.
The achievements and experiences of China-Africa inter-civilizational exchanges are eloquent testaments to the value of cooperation and exchanges among civilizations. The vicious smearing campaign based on the theory of “Clash of Civilizations” is destined to fail and runs counter to the interests of the people. As long as the 2.6 billion Chinese and African people join their efforts to open a new page of world inter-civilizational exchanges, the counter-current of “Clash of Civilizations” will not be able to disturb dust in the contemporary world. It is my firm belief that the ancient civilizations of China and Africa, through exchanges and integration, will generate new impetus propelling the two sides to a higher level of common development and win-win cooperation, and contribute to a world of civilizations featuring equality, harmony, and prosperity rather than prejudice.
The author of this article is Amb. Liu Yuxi, Head of Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the African Union
Editor’s note: The article reflects the author’s opinion only, and not necessarily the views of the editorial opinion of Ethiopian Monitor.