At the opening ceremony of the third International Cooperation Summit Forum for the BRI Initiative on October 18, 2023, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote address and announced China’s eight actions supporting the high-quality construction of the BRI Initiative.
Among these actions, China proposes to enhance diplomatic relations with nations that have collaborated to construct the BRI Initiative, aiming to facilitate interpersonal interactions. The BRI Initiative acts as a bridge for polite contact between its bordering countries and regions.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a vital component of the BRI Initiative, deepening the civilized exchanges between the two nations while fostering political mutual trust, unity, and cooperation.
Additionally, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor presents numerous opportunities for the shared development of both nations, making it one of the initiative’s most rapidly expanding and successful projects, a powerful example of how “civilization shines the light of the times through exchanges and mutual learning.”
Friendship, stemming from close interactions among people, is the cornerstone of healthy state-to-state relations. Cultivating mutual feelings among individuals relies on spiritual communication rooted in civilization.
Civilization represents the most profound social force intimately connected to the cohesive identity and unity of a nation. In this era of “Great Changes Unseen in a Century,” various crises have emerged, stirring diverse thoughts, and the international community has witnessed the emergence of tendencies to wield the banner of civilization in ways that lead to “grouping” and “factional divisions,” casting a significant shadow over global peace and development.
Each nation possesses a unique civilizational heritage, and the actual differences between civilizations are shaped by the distinct histories of each nation. While historical contexts often highlight inherent differences among civilizations, current realities showcase that these divisions and conflicts can be averted. Instead of catalyzing international conflict, civilizational divides should be leveraged to advance human progress.
With the acceleration of the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, it becomes imperative for both nations to fortify civilizational dialogues along the Corridor. Implementing the guiding principles of the Global Civilization Initiative (GCI), they can vividly demonstrate “The Belt and Road” ethos by fostering civilizational exchanges and mutual understanding and scripting a chapter of the GCI in both China and Pakistan. This can be achieved through civilizational respect, mutual appreciation, dialogue, and integration.
Sustain the concept of “civilization symbiosis” by honoring and practicing the appreciation of diverse civilizations. “There exists no distinction between superior and inferior civilizations; only differences in characteristics and regions.” Both Pakistan and China boast rich cultural legacies and remarkable ancient civilizations.
Since ancient times, these two nations have upheld strong cultural bonds founded on respect for civilization. The “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” is a guardian of this affable communication, supporting civilization and ensuring the joint progress of Chinese and Pakistani civilizations, thus fostering harmony in their shared environment.
The immense vitality of global civilization is embodied in multiple civilizations. Within this Silk Road, China will uphold civilization, champion the diversity of civilizations, and vehemently oppose both the “civilization-superior theory” and the “civilization-centered theory.”
We should break free from the entanglements of the “clash of civilizations” through mutual understanding of different cultures and advocate for promoting universal human values. It is humankind that has conferred intrinsic value and historical context upon civilization.
Both Chinese and Pakistani civilizations possess unique allure and have significantly influenced their respective populations, yet they should avoid falling into the trap of a “clash of civilizations.” While civilizations have their distinctiveness, there exist commonalities among them. “There is no conflict among civilizations as long as there are eyes to appreciate the beauty in all civilizations,” stated President Xi Jinping.
Cultural exchange initiatives such as the “Dream Silk Road International Tour” and the “China-Pakistan Online Forum on Cultural Exchange History and Cultural Relics Protection” have been effectively executed by China and Pakistan, infusing a new humanistic drive into the shared destiny of these two nations.
By implementing more targeted, diverse, and distinctive mutual learning activities, China aims to elevate cultural mutual learning to understanding and appreciating different civilizations.
Dispel the myth of ‘civilization estrangement’ and promote the idea of giving more weight to civilizational innovation and inheritance by fostering communication between civilizations. Due to security concerns, the Chinese community is comparatively isolated from the local community, leading to a low level of integration between Chinese and local inhabitants.
Some anti-Chinese forces take advantage of this situation to advocate for the establishment of ‘apartheid.’ Therefore, we should strengthen the dialogue between the two countries regarding the populace’s livelihoods, folkways, and customs.
Through more active civil interaction and organic learning from each other’s civilization, we can continuously enrich our own connotations. This will enable forming an inherited, innovative, and developing civilization with common characteristics of China and Pakistan, debunking the myth of a ‘civilizational gap.’
Create a “civilized and prosperous” Silk Road by merging civilizations and implementing the idea of boosting global humanities cooperation and exchanges. China-Pakistan relations are growing stronger due to the link and bridge provided by international cultural exchange.
Additionally, it enhances the soft power of the two countries and helps protect their identities and cultures. Since establishing diplomatic relations over 70 years ago, China and Pakistan have promoted international humanities exchanges and cooperation in personnel exchanges, youth exchanges, media cooperation, and think tank collaboration.
They have also explored the establishment of an international network for communication and collaboration between civilizations, enriched the content of exchanges, expanded avenues for collaboration, and encouraged cross-cultural understanding and learning.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will leverage advances in science and technology to construct a big data platform for humanities exchange supported by blockchain technology, bolster enterprise cooperation, trade, economic exchange, and humanities exchange, and foster the development of a more beautiful, civilized, and prosperous Silk Road.
*The authors are scholars affiliated with the Baize Institute for Strategy Studies at Southwest University of Political Science and Law, People’s Republic of China.
**The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Diplomatic Insight. The organization neither endorses nor assumes any responsibility for the content of this article.