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Things you need to know: Xi's efforts to promote cultural exchange

(People's Daily Online)    13:54, May 23, 2019

The Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations opened in Beijing on May 15. President Xi Jinping, who initiated the conference, has repeatedly pointed out the importance of cultural exchange and mutual learning.

Cultural exchanges serve as the bridge between different peoples and play an important role in international communication. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, President Xi has mentioned the sparkling achievements of various civilizations more than once in his diplomatic activities, helping to promote the spread and exchange of culture.

Xi’s remarks on ancient civilizations

"I have visited many places in the world. The best thing I wanted to do is to learn about differing civilizations across the five continents, what make them different and unique, how their people think about the world and life and what they hold dear. I have visited Chichen Itza, a window on the ancient Maya civilization, and the Central Asian city of Samarkand, an epitome of the ancient Islamic civilization. It is my keenly-felt conviction that an attitude of equality and modesty is required if one wants to truly understand the various civilizations. Taking a condescending attitude toward a civilization cannot help anyone to appreciate its essence but may risk antagonizing it. Both history and reality show that pride and prejudice are two biggest obstacles to exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations."

-- President Xi’s speech at the Headquarters of UNESCO, March 27, 2014

Story 1

On June 6, 2013, President Xi Jinping visited the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza at the invitation of President Enrique Pena Nieto. It was a journey to promote cultural exchange between the two ancient civilizations of China and Mexico.

President Xi Jinping visits the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza on June 6, 2013, at the invitation of President Enrique Pena Nieto. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)

Upon arrival, President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan were greeted at the entrance by President Enrique Pena Nieto and his wife Angelica Rivera. Mexican children waved the flags of the two countries and sang folk songs. The local people greeted the Chinese guests with a ceremony in a unique style of Mayan tradition.

Accompanied by Pena Nieto, Xi toured around the Quetzalcoatl Pyramid, ball court and the temple in the archaeological site. He asked Pena Nieto relevant questions about the ruins of Chichen Itza. Pena Nieto explained to Xi the influence of the Maya civilization on Mexican culture as well as the protection and recovery of the ruins. They also discussed the history and culture of the two countries.

Xi said to Pena Nieto that China and Mexico are both ancient civilizations and great cultural powers. The two cultures have a far-reaching influence on the world as a result of their distinctive features and manage to maintain vitality through innovation. Historically, the two cultures learned from each other and enhanced each other's beauty. The famous "Silk Road on the Sea" promoted cultural exchanges while facilitating trade between the two countries, leaving a brilliant page in the history of world civilization.

Story 2

President Xi Jinping visited the ancient Ulugh Beg Observatory in Uzbekistan on Sept. 10, 2013, during his state visit.

President Xi Jinping (right), visits the ancient Ulugh Beg Observatory with Uzbek President Islam Karimov (center), in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Sept. 10, 2013. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)

Accompanied by Uzbek President Islam Karimov, President Xi Jinping visited the ancient Ulugh Beg Observatory located in Uzbekistan's second largest city of Samarkand.

During China's Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), imperial envoy Zhang Qian was sent to Central Asia twice to open China up to the world of commercial trade and cultural communication.

"This gives us a special feeling. We are far away in distance, but we are also so near to each other in our soul. It is just like time travel," Xi said.

The Chinese president said that the two countries should step up cooperation and exchanges, and jointly write a new chapter in the development of civilizations along the ancient Silk Road. 


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