China is a study of how harmony works through diversity. This trait is mirrored in the Province of Gansu, a region which has shown that much good can be achieved through diversity, even as it hosts the Media cooperation on One Belt One Road and the Second Silk Road (Dunhuang) International Cultural Expo. BUKOLA OGUNSINA writes…
Gansu, a quiet province in China attracts tourists from across the world. Perhaps it’s the spirit of the ancient Silk Road running across Gansu, historically and even recently welcoming foreigners far and near that has given the region wisdom to promote unified strength in its diverse cultures.
Jiuquan in Gansu controls among others; Suzhou district, Dunhuang city, Yumen city, Subei Mongol autonomous county and Aksai Kazak autonomous county. This area has a population of 1.1 million, and is 42 percent of the entire Gansu region. As Gansu sings a common song of harmony and prosperity, mirrored through the Chinese President, Xi Jinping’s initiative of the One Belt, One Road, it is in Dunhuang that the international cultural expo unfolds.
The Cultural Expo brought 124 delegates from 51 countries and three international and regional organisations to display their achievements and talk about plans in exchange and cooperation of implementing President Xi Jinping’s One Belt One Road.
“Two thousand years ago, our ancestors blazed the trails, sailed across the ocean, and finally opened up the Silk Road spanning Asia and Europe and connecting land and sea. Its profound historical and cultural connotations not only provide nourishment for the Chinese civilization, but also inject vitality into the rich and diverse world civilizations,” the Chinese Minister of Culture, Mr Luo Shugang said in his speech.
“In today’s world where peace, cooperation and development remains the theme of this great era, although different countries may be materially different in social system, history and culture, and value, the ancient spirit of the Silk Road shows us that we can learn from each other and seek mutual development through dialogue and communication off different civilizations and different development patterns.
“The Silk Road builds a bridge of friendship between the people of all nations, becoming the driving force of human progress and the tie to maintain world peace.
“Today, the fact that we inherit the spirit of the ancient Silk Road and discuss the construction of the Belt and Road together is a continuation of the historical trend and the right choice for the future,” he said.
He also noted that the Ancient Chinese thinker Mencius had said “It is an objective fact that all things are different from one another,” elaborating that China is willing to actively maintain the world cultural diversity, promote exchanges and dialogue among civilizations, learn from each other in seeking common ground and common development with an open and inclusive attitude, and to seek common development through exchange and mutual learning, to jointly promote the development and prosperity of culture, to enrich people’s spiritual world, and to promote the progress of human civilization.
On her part, the Minister of Culture and Sports of the Hellenic Republic, Mrs Koniordou Lydia stressed on people to people relationships that the One Belt One Road could bring. “The relations between peoples may be based on economy, trade and investment. The significance of the One Belt One Road initiative for the development not only of entrepreneurial but also of personal relations, is very important. Greece intends to be an active partner in this initiative as shares the vision of long term, international collaboration on several fields.
“Yet, it is through culture, that such relations grow roots, become substantial, and acquire depth and perspective. The condition of dialogue, the gesture of exchange cannot exist outside the framework of culture.”
Similarly, the Minister of Cultural Revival, Art and Social Modernisation of the Republic of Niger, Mr Assoumana Malam Issa, underlined how vital the One Belt One Road would be for cultural experiences. “In this energetic season, I’m very pleased to be present at this international event whose well-timely and pertinent theme puts cultural cooperation and solidarity at the centre of our concerns. The Silk Road, by its symbolic charge and the historical pedagogical significance it carries, shows us resolutely the way. It is actually a focus on what it has offered the good and benefits to the world that we meet here today to consolidate the lessons of the past and commit ourselves to a necessary synergy of initiatives.”
Where security is concerned, Issa stressed that the tragedy of Mali involving loss of human lives, a deficiency of security, massive destruction of cultural heritage, especially in Timbuktu and Gao, expressly reminds us of our daily duties. “In Niger, the peril is certainly much less, but the displacement of refugee populations, combined with the situation of insecurity, makes us fear the same damage, especially in the region of Diffa and Tillabery. This is in itself an additional reason for us to call for mutual cooperation in order to anticipate the potential tragedies,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr Adil Osmanovi says it is extremely important for his country to be part of the Belt and Road Initiative, and would like to make strong contribution, both through the cooperation platform between China and the Central and Eastern European Countries, and through other forms of cooperation aimed at joint prosperity.
Acknowledging the Belt and Road Initiative would take its economic cooperation with China to higher levels. “The Belt and Road Initiative allows us to further improve our cultural exchange, get to know each other better and establish mutual contacts.
“We see joint cooperation as a great opportunity and possibility to promote balanced development, and for us it is a symbol of connection between the east and the west, and the basis for everything is exactly culture and cultural understanding. Thanks to the cultural heritage, the highest values of material and spiritual culture, a stronger connection is possible through the joint effort because culture knows no boundaries.
“The past period showed us that culture is extremely important for the preservation of peace and the building of a democratic society. We want to build our relations and cooperation just like bridges. Bridges are common, equal for everyone, useful, and erected meaningfully at the place where the largest number of human needs intersect. They are more persistent than other buildings. By building bridges between peoples, countries and cultures, we build a common future of peace, tolerance and prosperity. We stand firm in the belief that our future projects will be like bridges and will contribute to even greater affirmation of our cultural cooperation and understanding.”
The Director General of Notimex, Mr Alejandro Ramos Esquivel went back into history stating that Gansu, with a centuries – old cultural heritage, played a fundamental role in the ancient Silk Road.
“This Road, developed from before the 1st Century of our era as a way to increase trade in Eurasia, became an icon of cooperation that favoured cultural exchange and harmony. It began in China, and gradually connected with the Persian and Roman cultures, India, Greece and Egypt, which meant the involvement of Africa. Those projects to open up roads on land and new sea routes to ease trade, consolidated and became a route not only for commerce, but for knowledge. It was through this route that the ideas of Buddhism spread and coexisted with Christianity, and also became a route for Islam.
The seed that was planted for trade, diversified in favour of cultural exchange among the peoples, sharing their values and religious ideas, to become a global and multicultural community which we represent. Each culture provided an aspect of its traditions, but at the same time they conserved their identity.
It’s not gratuitous that the “Belt and Road” initiative, an idea set out by President Xi Jinping, includes countries that account for 70 percent of the global population and produce more than half of the world’s gross domestic product. These figures that clearly reveal the global importance of this project.
“Let’s do it from our platforms, from print media to websites. Let’s take advantage of our social media to invite new generations to be a part of this project of cooperation and exchange,” he said.