When Indian star Aamir Khan appeared in the Conference Dialogue of Asian Civilizations (CDAC) on May 15, 2019, in Beijing, China, a lot of people were taking photographs of him. Indian movies, such as Dangal have become very popular in China, according to reports.
The Conference, which was organized by China, was intended to renew ancient civilizational exchanges in a novel context. It is common knowledge that Asia is bound to be the leading economic power of the world. In many an economic index, it has already overtaken the west today. The rise of China and India, as the world’s fastest-growing economies and the single largest markets, has altered the global order. In this manner, economic multi-polarity has already taken place.
The CDAC is a classic example of the Asian cultures bouncing back to prominence in the world stage. China has already become the world’s second largest economy, and with a robust growth being sustained over the years, it will make further strides in the future.
Followed by the achievement of economic prosperity, China has given the pride of place to rediscover its ancient civilizational roots along with those of other Asian countries. They do it presumably to protect its identity and to play diplomacy in pursuit of its Belt and Road Initiative with other countries in Asia.
Economic globalization, earlier led by the West, made way for the western culture to spread across the continental, some of its features such as clothing, governing systems and educational have even become universal today. It happened as the western world was leading the global economic integration.
Now, the west is not the sole engine determining global economic integration. China is also at the helm of affairs in this respect. Along with its rise economically, China is more and more assertive about its culture and identity, which is essentially a part of Asia. If Asia occupies the centre stage of the world economy with other countries, Asian culture will automatically reassure itself.
"Nada Al-Nashif, the Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO, stressed the need for different civilizations try to find common roots and focus more on what brings them together rather than what sets them apart"
The CDAC took place against such a backdrop with the participation of the leaders, academics and representatives from different countries in the Asian region. Representing Sri Lanka, President Maithripala Sirisena also attended it.
China’s position became clear when its President Xi Jinping said in his address to the conference, “The world today is moving towards greater multi-polarity, economic globalization and cultural diversity, and is becoming increasingly information-oriented. All this points to promising prospects for the future. Meanwhile, instability and uncertainties are mounting and the global challenges faced by humanity are becoming ever more daunting, calling for joint responses from countries around the world. To meet our common challenges and create a better future for all, we look to culture and civilization to play their role, which is as important as the role played by the economy, science and technology. The Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations is convened just for this purpose, as it creates a new platform for civilizations in Asia and beyond to engage in dialogue and exchanges on an equal footing to facilitate
Also, he added, “Asia is home to one of the earliest human settlements and an important cradle of human civilizations. This vast and beautiful continent covers a third of the earth’s land mass and has two-thirds of the world’s population. It has more than 1,000 ethnic groups living in 47 countries. For several thousand years before the Common Era, our forefathers living along the Tigris and the Euphrates, the Indus and the Ganges, the Yellow River and the Yangtze, tilled and irrigated the land, made tools and utensils, and built homes to live in.
Generation after generation, our ancestors in Asia, with their tireless endeavours, created a time-honoured history and profound and rich civilizations. Our vast and fertile plains, beautiful river basins, large Steppes, immense deserts, mighty rivers and oceans, and lofty mountains have nourished and enriched diverse and colourful civilizations across Asia,” he said.
By remarking so, it is a clear application of soft diplomacy by China in furthering its connectivity with the east of Asia as a fundamental requirement. So, the event served as a platform for the rediscovery of Asian civilizational ties.
For several millennia, Asia ruled the roost. During the course of his speech, he referred to the cuneiform script, maps, glass, Arabic numerals, papermaking and printing techniques as marvellous inventions of Asia to the world.
He also mentioned majestic structures like the Great Wall, the Great Mosque of Mecca, Taj Mahal and Angkor Wat.
“They are all invaluable assets of human civilization. Through interactions on this continent, Asian civilizations have enriched each other and written an epic of development,” he said.
As China modelled its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on the ancient silk route, attention is simultaneously paid for the revival of inter-civilizational exchanges and mutual learning that happened in ancient times.
"The CDAC is a classic example of the Asian cultures bouncing back to prominence in the world stage. China has already become the world’s second largest economy, and with a robust growth being sustained over the years, it will make further strides in the future"
For China, it is needed for better engagement with Asian neighbours.
The rise of Asia will reassert in this sense its religions, philosophy literature, music etc. Coupled with its economic power, these cultural aspects will come to prominence.
Nada Al-Nashif, the Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO, stressed the need for different civilizations try to find common roots and focus more on what brings them together rather than what sets
As the two economic powerhouses of Asia, India and China seem to be cooperating well with each when one goes by what Dr Srikanth Kondapalli, the Chairman of Centre for East Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said at the conference. He drove home the point that no culture should feel superior because all were involved in the globalization process.
“The cultural and civilization exchanges between China and India are doing well. Agreements signed between foreign ministers [of the two countries] last year targeted expanding culture cooperation in areas such as movie production, music management, teaching the Chinese language, boosting tourism and other areas.
In order to attract Chinese tourists, the Indian government launched the e-visa, loosening the visa system. We have a lot of strong points, compared to a decade ago, when we barely had much tourism. It is now increasing.
Chinese and Indian civilizations are among the oldest and richest in the world.
There’s inherent cultural strength that China and India have. Despite all these things that [have] happened, such as colonialism, modernization, their long historical continuity and cultural resilience help to preserve the strong base of centuries-old civilizations. And now they are making efforts to expand it,” he said.
He also added:
“In order to attract Chinese tourists, the Indian government launched the e-visa, loosening the visa system. We have a lot of strong points, compared to a decade ago, when we barely had much tourism. It is now increasing.