IV.In upholding cultural diversity and building a global community with a shared future, what kind of role should China play? How should we treat ourselves, other countries, and other civilizations?
The Chinese nation has a civilization that dates back more than 5,000 years, and witnesses both glory and misery in its history. The soul of the Chinese nation was not destroyed in the complications suffered in modern times. Through the ceaseless and terrible struggle of multiple generations spanning nearly 200 years, China was able to escape from its state of backwardness and vulnerability, and is now experiencing a great national renewal. Thanks to a modernization drive that has been ongoing for several decades, this ancient civilization is gleaming with fresh vitality, and China has once again stood up tall among the global community of nations to play its due role.
No matter how complex today’s world appears to be, there is only one trend, and it is of peace, development, and mutually beneficial cooperation. Those who embrace this trend will prosper, while those who reject it will perish. This is our basic standpoint, proved many times by history. Based on this standpoint, China has devoted itself to the grand cause of building a global community with a shared future, and will continue to do so by joining hands with the rest of the world for our common advancement.
We will continue to uphold peaceful development and mutually beneficial cooperation. Harmony between countries leads to world peace, while confrontation can only end in chaos. Peace and development are the common aspirations of people the world over, Cold War and zero-sum mentalities are becoming increasingly passe, and arrogance or "going it alone" is universally decried. Only peaceful development and cooperation can truly bring benefits for all and ensure that everyone wins. The lessons of the Peloponnesian War, two world wars, and a Cold War that lasted more than 40 years have been both bitter and profound. Since ancient times, the peace-loving Chinese nation has understood that "a warlike state, however big it may be, will eventually fall." In today’s hard-earned environment of peace, China cherishes development opportunities, and is willing to promote world peace through its own development. We will uphold the principles of peace, sovereignty, universal benefit, and shared governance, and work with other countries and nations to resolve disputes, reduce tensions, and put an end to war and conflict, with a view to safeguarding world peace.
We will continue to uphold shared development to ensure the coexistence and common prosperity of all. Humankind has developed into one indivisible community of shared interests, where according to ancient Chinese wisdom, "the prosperity or suffering of one will ripple out to affect others." Nowadays, no country or nation can achieve self-development while isolating itself from other countries or nations, let alone at the expense of others. Instead of pursuing beggar-thy-neighbor policies, countries should work together to overcome difficulties. Through more than 40 years of reform and opening up, China has accomplished remarkable economic feats. We are willing to share the dividends of our growth with people around the world so that other countries can board the fast train of China’s development.
We will continue to treat others as equals and will never seek hegemony. Amity with neighbors, harmony without uniformity, and peace are values cherished in Chinese culture. For several millennia, peace has constituted the essence of our national tradition. China has grown from poverty and weakness to become the world’s second largest economy not through military expansion or colonial plundering, but through the hard work of our people and defense of peace. The Chinese people have never accepted the idea that "rising powers always seek to dominate." Rather, we have always advocated that irrespective of size, strength, or wealth, all countries are equal members of the international community and have equal rights to participate in international affairs.
We will continue to respect all of the world’s peoples and civilizations. Cultural diversity is a basic feature of our world, and a wellspring for human progress. Our globe contains more than 200 countries and regions, over 2,500 ethnic groups, and a large variety of religions. Different histories, local conditions, ethnic groups, and customs have given birth to different civilizations and created a world rich in diversity. Cultural differences should not be a source of global conflict, but rather a driving force for the advancement of human civilization. "Myriad petals of purple and red set spring aglow;" only when a civilization adapts to the historical needs of the nation and keeps pace with the changes of the times can it fully exert its strength. Thus, we need to accentuate the fine points of others and share all that is beautiful, reject the concept of "cultural superiority" in all its forms, and oppose those who would impose their systems of governance onto other countries.
We will continue to uphold openness, and draw on the strengths of others to make up for our weaknesses. To ensure the prosperity of civilizations and the advancement of humanity, we must seek common ground while setting aside differences, uphold openness and inclusiveness, and facilitate exchange and mutual learning between cultures. History calls on human civilizations to shine brightly together; different cultures should coexist harmoniously and complement each other to provide intellectual strength to push human development forward. A traditional Chinese saying goes, "stones from other hills may serve to polish our jade," which means that the lessons from others may help us to overcome our shortcomings. The maturation process of Chinese civilization has been one of integrating with various cultures and learning from other nations. In today’s world, it has become increasingly important that we establish a global perspective, actively learn from and draw on the cultural achievements of people all over the world, and utilize this new knowledge in line with China’s realities.
Today’s world has become a community with a shared future in which all countries are bound together. It is an irreversible trend of the times that people around the globe must join hands to overcome difficulties and achieve shared development. We should uphold the idea of living in a rich, vibrant, and culturally diverse world, create a bright tapestry interwoven with elements of all civilizations, and work together to eliminate real cultural barriers, to resist erroneous views obstructing the interaction of human minds, and to eliminate misunderstandings hindering human exchange. In this way, we will ensure that diverse cultures can coexist, grow together, and learn from one another in the modern world to create a better future for all.
(Qian Chengdan is a Boya Chair Professor at Peking University.)