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Why does China and Europe need a dialogue of civilizations?


By ahongPublished 23 days ago 4 min read

Recently, the "China Studies and World Dialogue - Belgium Forum" was held in Brussels, the capital of Belgium. Nearly 60 experts and scholars from China and Europe engaged in a dialogue of ideas between civilizations, focusing on "China Studies and Europe's View of China."

From a review and outlook of 210 years of European Sinology to the mechanisms and pathways of China-Europe people-to-people exchanges, and the resilience and potential of China-Europe economic and trade cooperation, the dialogue connected the East and West, and discussed both the past and the present. It is both a continuation of history and a reflection on the present.

China and Europe are respectively the birthplaces of Eastern and Western civilizations, shining at both ends of the Eurasian continent, creating brilliant civilizational achievements, and also learning from each other through exchanges and mutual progress.

As early as the Han and Tang dynasties in China, the ancient Silk Road connected Chang'an with Rome, opening the prelude to the exchange between the two great civilizations. "The Travels of Marco Polo" and "The Travels of Sir John Mandeville" inspired the European imagination of the East; Western figures such as Matteo Ricci brought scientific knowledge such as astronomy, geography, and mathematics to China; China's four great inventions and classics were translated into Western languages, profoundly influencing European society and culture; and Western natural and social sciences also promoted the transformation and development of modern China.

Today, politically, leaders' mutual visits and high-level strategic dialogues between China and Europe have fully restarted at all levels; economically, China and Europe are each other's second-largest trading partners, with supply chains, industrial chains, and value chains deeply intertwined and embedded in each other. As of the end of September 2023, the China-Europe Railway Express has reached 217 cities in 25 European countries; culturally, personnel exchanges between China and Europe are increasingly close, and people-to-people exchanges in education, science and technology, tourism, sports, and youth are widely carried out in various fields; diplomatically, China and Europe firmly support multilateralism, advocate for trade liberalization and an open economy, and advocate for the diversity of civilizations.

On April 1st, the opening ceremony of the exhibition "Forbidden City and Palace of Versailles - Sino-French Exchanges in the 17th and 18th Centuries" was held at the Palace Museum in Beijing. The photo shows the scene of the opening ceremony. Taken by CNS reporter Tian Yuhao.

The two great civilizations of China and Europe influence and blend with each other, becoming a model of mutual learning and inspiration between different civilizations, promoting the progress of human civilization and the prosperity and development of the world. At present, cooperation and competition, consensus or differences, are key to China-Europe. China and Europe still need to continue the dialogue.

Dialogue is the premise for enhancing understanding. The complex international situation and the relative strength changes between China and Europe have led to an increase in the complexity of China-Europe relations. In recent years, there have been some discordant notes and interference in the warm relations between China and Europe. Some people in Europe have proposed the so-called "three-in-one positioning" of "partner, competitor, and systemic rival," demanding "risk reduction" and "dependence reduction" towards China. In response, the wise people of China and Europe adhere to the principle of properly handling frictions and disputes through dialogue and consultation, effectively avoiding potential differences between the two sides at the strategic and economic and trade levels. Strengthening dialogue and exchange at all levels and in all fields helps to enhance mutual understanding, adjust perceptions of each other, properly handle differences, and expand common positions.

Dialogue is the foundation for coordinating actions. Today, more and more regional and global issues such as regional conflicts, economic crises, climate change, and artificial intelligence require the international community to work together. As two major forces in the world, China and Europe have the responsibility to provide more stability for the world and more impetus for development, which is in the interests of both parties and is also the general expectation of the international community. For example, in terms of green development, China and Europe have always been actors in addressing climate change, jointly promoting the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement, and leading global green development.

Dialogue is the path to promoting progress. Whether it is the experience sharing on heritage protection at the "Liangzhu and the World - Liangzhu Ancient City · Acropolis of Athens" Sino-Greek civilization dialogue event, or the understanding and recognition of contemporary China during the "World China Studies Conference · Shanghai Forum" and "China Studies and World Dialogue - Belgium Forum," or the exploration and thinking of the "China-Europe High-Level Dialogue on the Digital Field," China and Europe exchange views and inspire each other in dialogue, showing the vitality of ancient civilizations that continue to learn and innovate. Through dialogue and exchange, China and Europe focus on the past, the present, and the future, discovering the colorful lineage of different civilizations, and also finding the common values of human civilization.

The great Greek writer Kazantzakis once said: "Socrates and Confucius are two masks of humanity, and under the masks is the same face of human rationality." We should believe that the two great ancient civilizations of China and Europe have enough rationality and wisdom to continue to promote the continuous and healthy development of bilateral relations through sincere dialogue, and make a positive contribution to the prosperity and stability of the world.

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About the Creator


I'm Ahong, a writer painting China's stories for the world. Dive into tales that blend tradition with the contemporary, right from the heart of China.

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