Belt and Road Initiative: A road connecting civilizations for the new era

China’s President Xi Jinping believes building a bridge of interaction and mutual learning through BRI will connect different civilizations. Image: Supplied.

China’s President Xi Jinping believes building a bridge of interaction and mutual learning through BRI will connect different civilizations. Image: Supplied.

Published Oct 24, 2023


By: Yi Fan

From Xi’an, China’s ancient capital at the foot of the Qinling Mountains, to Lisbon, the European city on the continent’s western edge; from the coastal city Xiamen in southeastern China to the Port of San Antonio across the Pacific: the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is connecting countries across the globe, where people with different skin colours and speaking different languages proudly nurture their cultures.

Living in a world of different civilizations, beliefs and customs, should we progress alone or together? And should we stay behind closed doors or embrace one another? China’s answer is clear: Build a bridge of interaction and mutual learning, and make the BRI a road connecting different civilizations.

A new approach to civilization

The BRI was put forward by China in 2013. Recognising diversity as a basic feature of the world, BRI’s concept of “mutual learning among civilizations” calls for treating all civilizations in an equal and inclusive manner, respecting the systems and beliefs of all countries, and promoting understanding and trust among different civilizations. Rejecting the outdated Cold War mentality, it represents a big step forward in humanity’s approach to civilization, and is garnering growing support globally.

A platform for intercivilizational dialogue

Over the past decade, Belt and Road partner countries have carried out diverse people-to-people exchanges and cooperation, which have become bridges for mutual cultural appreciation.

Initiatives such as the Silk Road International League of Theaters, the International Alliance of Museums of the Silk Road, the Silk Road International Arts Festival, the Silk Road International Library Alliance and the Silk Road International Gallery Alliance had attracted close to 100 countries and international organisations by the end of 2022.

Luban Workshop, a vocational training program, is today being conducted in more than 20 Asian, African and European countries to help cultivate a pool of high-calibre technical personnel for the local community. Chinese and foreign archaeologists are working together to explore the cultural relics of the ancient Silk Road and renew the exchanges along the Silk Road with modern-day cultural interactions. The BRI has built a platform for dialogue among civilizations, where the flowers of different civilizations bloom and shine together.

For a better world: contribution of the Chinese civilization

Our world is going through profound changes of a magnitude unseen in a century. China, while actively advocating dialogue among civilizations, is committed to contributing the energy of the Chinese civilization to the world, in an effort to put the concept of “mutual learning among civilizations” into practice, and add new content to the BRI.

China’s endeavour to further the country’s development along the Chinese path to modernisation and create a new form of human advancement sends a strong message—modernisation does not mean Westernisation, and each civilization is valuable for being uniquely its own.

This strengthens the confidence of different civilizations to shine together and complement each other. China has put forward the Global Civilization Initiative that calls for respecting the diversity of world civilizations, championing the common values of humanity, promoting the inheritance and innovation of civilizations, and enhancing international people-to-people exchanges and cooperation.

The aim is to open up new prospects in cultural interaction and people-to-people bonds among all countries, and contribute more to the progress of human civilization.

As once-in-a-century changes continue to unfold globally, humanity is confronted with multiple challenges and crises. The resurgence of anachronistic mentalities trumpeting the superiority of certain civilizations and clash of civilizations is posing a serious threat to world peace, stability, development and progress.

At a time when all countries are interconnected with a shared future, inclusiveness, coexistence, interaction and mutual learning among civilizations play an irreplaceable role in advancing the modernization of human society and diverse human civilizations.

By working together to build the Belt and Road into a road connecting different civilizations, people of countries around the world will be able to join forces and tackle all kinds of risks and challenges together.