|Liu Zhentang, former Chinese Ambassador to Iran, delivers a speech at the seminar in Beijing Huimin School, June 3, 2014. (People's Daily Online/Du Mingming)|
"Iran plays an important role in the two-thousand-year history of the Silk Road, and its unique status remains irreplaceable even today," said Liu Zhentang, former Chinese Ambassador to Iran, at a seminar in Beijing last Tuesday.
The "21st century China-Iran Silk Road Seminar", jointly hosted by the Cultural Counsellorship of Embassy of Islamic Republic of Iran, the Donggan (Hui ethnic group) Central Research Institute at Minzu University of China, Beijing Ethnic Education Association, and Beijing Huimin School, involved nearly 50 experts, scholars, and representatives from China and Iran.
Liu explained his idea as follows:
Firstly, it is commonly accepted that Xi'an was the starting point of the Silk Road, and the end was Rome. Persia was located in the middle, which served as a bridge to link the two sides. A large number of Chinese archaeological discoveries have confirmed this point. More than 95 percent of foreign coins unearthed in China date from Persia's Sassanid Dynasty (3rd century to the 7th century AD).
Secondly, Persia was a country rich in religions. Almost all the religions associated with Persia spread to China. The Persians even brought certain religions that did not originate in Persia to China. For instance, Persian Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism had considerable influence in China, and Persians were the main force in spreading Nestorianism and Islam to China.
Thirdly, Quanzhou, a historical city in south China's Fujian Province, was an important link in the traditional maritime Silk Road. Quanzhou was once a key port on the maritime spice road and the Silk Road. More than half of the sarcophagus, steles, and carved relics stored in Quanzhou Maritime Museum were written in Persian. In addition, there is a well preserved Manichaeism statue standing on a cliff in Quanzhou.
Liu pointed out that although China and Iran have different systems and beliefs, the two countries share common universal values: mutual respect, fairness and equality, independence, mutual benefit and win-win, and opposition to any form of power politics and hegemony. He said that such values should be true universal values.
"The relationship between China and Iran is a strategic partnership with no written agreement, and Iran will play a more important role in building the new Silk Road," Liu remarked.