Chinese culture plays more visible role in promoting understanding between China, U.S.

10:40, November 14, 2009      

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On July 27, at the opening meeting of the first China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) in Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama borrowed words from ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius to underscore the importance of resolving disagreement between the two nations through talks.

"A trail through the mountains, if used, becomes a path in a short time, but, if unused, becomes blocked by grass in an equally short time," he quoted Mencius.


For observers of Sino-U.S. relations, it is hard for them to ignore the fact that the Chinese culture is playing a more visible in promoting understanding between the two countries.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also no stranger to Chinese proverbs.

In her speech at the first S&ED, she quoted the Chinese proverb: "When people are of one mind and heart, they can move Mountain Tai."

In January, when delivering remarks in New York before her Asiatrip, Clinton said: "When you are in a common boat, you need to cross the river peacefully together," to suggest how Washington and Beijing should work together to overcome the current economic crisis.

That proverb is from the Art of War by Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese military strategist.

U.S. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner, who once studied in China, went further at the S&ED by citing a Chinese idiom in Chinese language: "feng yu tong zhou", which means "staying in the same boat through rain and wind".

On June 1, when delivering a speech at Beijing University, Geithner used the Chinese idiom "a joint effort in a concerted way", to show America's willingness to cooperate with China.

U.S. policy makers' frequent references to Chinese proverbs in public speeches showed the greater respect of U.S. politicians for Chinese culture, said Li Cheng, an expert at Brookings Institution's John L. Thornton China Center.

It demonstrated that U.S. leaders "have become quite aware of China's contributions to the world civilization and are expressing their willingness to approach China on an equal basis," he told Xinhua in a recent interview.
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