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Promoting People-to-People Bonds Through Mutual Learning among Civilizations
Text by Xiong Chengyu


April 30, 2017: Students attend class in the Department of the Chinese Language at Kabul University. Built with the help of China, the teaching building of the department covers a total area of 2,000 square meters. Xinhua

“Civilizations have been enriched and become more colorful through exchange and mutual learning,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping in a 2014 speech at UNESCO Headquarters. “Such exchange and mutual learning serve as important drivers of human progress and global peace and development.” Throughout human history, various factors such as geography, climate, production modes and lifestyles have contributed to the diversity of global cultures. For thousands of years, various cultures have been learning from and communicating with each other, from nomadic and agrarian lifestyles to engineering, printing and the mobile internet.

Over the past 2,000 years, diligent and brave people throughout the Eurasian supercontinent have explored multiple passages to trade and conduct people-to-people exchange with contrasting cultures. In this context, UNESCO places special focus on complicated cultural exchange between China and the West. The organization is working to promote diversity and highlight Eurasia’s common heritage, which places more pressure on the strenuous work being performed under the Belt and Road Initiative to facilitate cultural heritage preservation and inheritance.

Exchange and mutual learning among civilizations promote openness and inclusiveness, culturally. The Silk Road ran through the four great civilizations, including ancient India, Egypt, Babylon and China. Three major religions, Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam converged on the Silk Road, and myriad ethnic cultures coexisted in peace along the routes. The Nile Valley, the crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the Indus River, the Ganges River, the Yangtze River and the Yellow River are all cradles of human civilization. Almost every philosophy, value and culture from both the East and the West have roots in civilizations and religions along the Silk Road.

In 2014, China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan jointly applied for a 5,000-kilometer stretch of the Silk Road network from central China to Central Asia to be listed as a new World Heritage site known as “Silk Roads: The Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor Network Routes.” Citing the peaceful coexistence and common prosperity of Chinese culture and various other cultures in the region along the Silk Road, UNESCO has included this area into its Man and the Biosphere Program.

The history of the Silk Road tells the tale of different civilizations developing together with openness and integration, religions moving forward with inclusiveness and dialogue, and peoples enjoying mutual prosperity with communication and exchanges. In the modern era, factors such as cultural clashes, environmental degradation, war, disaster, and the widening gap between the rich and the poor are all hindering the development of human society. To help solve these problems and ease conflict, mutual learning among civilizations and cultural inclusiveness are urgently needed.



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