UNESCO symposium highlights mutual learning, intercultural dialogue
Exchanges between civilizations increasingly popular
Published: Apr 16, 2024 10:35 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

An international symposium on the concept of intercultural exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations was held Monday at the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, the French capital.

With a theme of "civilizational exchanges, mutual learning and common aspirations of humanity," the symposium was co-hosted by UNESCO, the State Council Information Office of China and China's National Commission for UNESCO.

The symposium attracted more than 200 attendees from more than 40 countries and regions, including UNESCO officials, representatives from various international organizations, scholars and youth delegates. The discussions focused on the historical aspects of cultural exchanges along the Silk Road and the importance of intercultural dialogue and mutual learning in today's global context.

In March 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited UNESCO headquarters for the first time and delivered a speech on promoting exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations.

"Ten years on, exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations are becoming increasingly popular, as is sharing Chinese wisdom and solutions for the common interests of all humankind. China has actively practiced this concept, cooperated with various parties including UNESCO, and achieved practical results in promoting exchanges and dialogues between different civilizations," Zhang Jianchun, a vice minister of the Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said in his opening speech.

Zhang pointed out that in the face of the risks and challenges in today's world, it is essential to draw on the wisdom of civilizations, promote development and progress through heritage and innovation, enhance mutual understanding through exchanges and cooperation, and realize a common vision for the future. 

He called for all parties to actively enact the China-proposed Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative in order to enhance consensus and promote common development and prosperity among civilizations.

Qu Xing, a deputy director-general of UNESCO, stated in his speech that without mutual understanding, recognition and trust, it is impossible to build a true international community. All parties should establish mutual trust and jointly embark on a peaceful journey.

In his keynote speech, Doudou Diene, former director of the Intercultural Dialogue Division at UNESCO, called for countries to value diverse identities, shared heritage and enhanced mutual understanding.

He emphasized that UNESCO is dedicated to promoting cultural exchanges and mutual understanding of civilizations through many concepts and programs. The "Silk Roads, Roads of Dialogue" is one of these. Launched in 1988, the program has received crucial support from many countries, including China. 

Exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations are an important driving force for the progress of human civilization and global peace and development, Sun Jiashan, an associate researcher at the Central Academy of Culture and Tourism Administration, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

"The Global Civilization Initiative allows the world to share China's experience, solutions and wisdom, such as our new technologies and programs in cultural preservation, heritage digitalization, and cultural creativity," he said. "They can help developing countries when they are at a more specific and important stage and truly implement activities to promote exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations."

Deepening cultural exchanges and cooperation and building a bridge for people-to-people ties are cultural practices with rich connotations. China's digital culture and digital economy have achieved leapfrog development. From Dunhuang murals to cultural relics in the Forbidden City, China's digital protection of cultural heritage has achieved remarkable results, Sun added.

In recent years, China has launched more than 30 cultural heritage protection projects together with countries such as Cambodia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Myanmar and Mongolia. From delving into the Mayan civilization to studying human origins in Africa to exploring ancient Egyptian civilization, China's institutions and scholars continue to build bridges for people-to-people ties around the world by participating in international cultural exchanges and cooperation.