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Background

 

    To promote fine traditions of Chinese culture, demonstrate openness, diversity, inclusiveness and pursuit of harmony of Chinese culture, promote exchanges and dialogues between Chinese civilization and the western one, and enhance mutual understanding and respect among people of different countries to build a harmonious world, Expert Advisory Committee of Chinese Cultural Symbolic City proposed to hold the Nishan Forum on World Civilizations to conduct dialogues and exchanges among world civilizations in line with UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and Global Agenda for Dialogues among Civilizations and its Programme of Action as well as related documents issued by Chinese government.

   1.      To make dialogues among different civilizations has become the trend of today’s world

The recommendation proposed by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to UN in 1998 to designate 2001 as the year of dialogue among civilizations was unanimously approved by the General Assembly. Then, dialogues among different civilizations, including equal dialogues among different faiths and religions were conducted around the world. The UNESCO 31st session adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, which advocates protecting the cultural diversity, which is regarded as a wealth full of vitality and sustainability. In 2005, Spain and Turkey initiated the Alliance of Civilizations, which received strong support from the UN. In April, 2007, the new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed former President Jorge Sampaio of Portugal as High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations to lead the implementation and enforcement . In January, 2008, the first international forum on Alliance of Civilizations was held in Madrid, Spain. People of governments, foundations, international organizations, civil society, media and the industrial and commercial community came together to make the discussion of bridging the gap among different countries and cultures and promoting the cross-cultural partnership. China advocated holding dialogues among different cultures and civilizations under the framework of the Asia-Europe Meeting actively. The first conference on cultures and civilizations was held in 2003 in the Asia-Europe Meeting process. In 2007, ASEM Interfaith Dialogue was held in Nanjing, China. Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, launched a Faith Foundation. He believed that in the era of globalization, the most important thing is to enhance understandings among people of different faiths and cultures and to live in peace and mutual respect. The dialogue among different cultures and faiths is accelerating, which is becoming the noble pursuit of the world.

     2 .Communication and understanding among different civilizations is helpful to resolve conflicts, discriminations and wars, so as to promote international peace

Different cultures and civilizations can coexist in peace and harmony, regardless of differences. This has been recognized by more and more people. Development in history has demonstrated that cultural or group closure may end up in terrible consequences or even antipathy and discontentment, which will involve into extremism or extremist activities once they are accumulated to a certain extent or combined with other factors. After “911”, two senior senators, Edward Kennedy and Richard Lugar, made Islamic world understand American values and culture. They jointly proposed an act to promote contact between the US and the Islamic countries to eliminate misunderstandings about US threat. Not long ago, World Dialogue Conference was held in Madrid, with the theme “To conduct dialogues among religions and cultures for world peace and stability” The Madrid Declaration recommends the United Nations to hold a special meeting to promote dialogues among world religions, cultures and civilizations and to rebuild trust among people of different cultures and faiths. History has shown that people need to overcome natural barriers, mental constraints and discriminations and misunderstandings by the exchanges of different civilizations. Differences in ideology, social system and model of development should not become obstacles of communications, nor the excuses for mutual confrontation. Diversity of the world, civilization and cultural differences should not be the roots of conflicts, but the driving force and starting point for exchanges and cooperations. To enhance dialogue and mutual understanding is the only way to ease and resolve contradictions and conflicts. Dialogue among civilizations will promote unity and harmony in the human family.

     3 .Chinese civilization represented by Confucianism is a significant force to the dialogue on world civilizations

Peace, development and cooperation have been common inspirations for people around the world. The outlook of harmony originated from Confucianism, which is the foundation for Chinese culture and wisdom of survival, is very useful today in that it provides inspirations for world peace, development and cooperation, not only harmony between people, social classes, man and nature, but also between nations and countries. In today’s world, people are increasingly aware of the importance of peaceful development and the significance of peace to development. Chinese traditional outlook of harmony provides a footnote and resource for this awareness. British philosopher Bertrand Russell said in his book The Problem of China: "the Chinese…have, in other respects, the civilization…containing elements which are needed greatly by the world.” If these elements can be applied universally, the world will enjoy more peace and happiness. The value of harmony being most precious advocated by traditional outlook of harmony and peaceful coexistence is a reflection of inspiration and pursuit for harmony, order and kindness. While we are maintaining world peace and promoting development and cooperation, we should deepen the dialogue among different civilizations based on Confucianism and use the leverage of it which is people-centric and respects people’s dignity and value; focus on self-improvement, reform and innovation; highlight social harmony, unity and mutual assistance; and emphasize benevolence to neighbors and living in harmony.  All will facilitate transforming the traditional concept of harmony into the basic principle of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, and tolerance, which is conductive to harmony between nations and countries, promoting the building of a harmonious world so that people will be living in harmony and happiness and the world will be more colorful.

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