President calls for enhancing cultural ties
President Xi Jinping said on Sep.14 that China will better utilize Beijing's advantages as an ancient capital and national cultural center to strengthen cultural exchanges with people from all over the world and enhance mutual learning among different civilizations.
Xi made the remark in a congratulatory letter sent to the 2023 Beijing Culture Forum, which opened in the capital on Thursday. Themed "Inherit cultural legacies, promote exchanges and cooperation", the two-day event is jointly hosted by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee and the Beijing municipal government.
Xi said the Chinese nation has a time-honored, fine traditional culture featuring openness and inclusiveness, noting that the Chinese civilization has always valued mutual understanding and respect among different civilizations.
Beijing, with its long history and continuous cultural heritage, serves as a powerful testament to the continuity, innovation, unity, inclusiveness and peacefulness of Chinese civilization, he said.
China will take better advantage of Beijing's strengths to promote exchanges with the rest of the world, in an effort to promote cultural prosperity and development, protect cultural heritage, and implement the Global Civilization Initiative, injecting profound and enduring cultural strength into the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, Xi said.
Cai Qi, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and a member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, said that people should take guidance from Xi's congratulatory letter to build the modern Chinese civilization at a higher level and carry out wide-ranging exchanges and mutual learning among different civilizations.
Cai expressed the hope that the forum will produce fruitful results and have a bigger presence.
More than 600 officials and notable cultural figures from home and abroad are expected to gather at the forum, giving over 50 speeches and taking part in roundtable dialogues. An evening gala was held at the Big Air Shougang — a landmark of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics — on Thursday. Several industry reports would also be released and international cultural cooperation projects signed.
"By inviting key actors from within the cultural world and beyond, I'm convinced that this forum will bring new shared knowledge, strengthen partnerships, and renew our commitment to invest in culture," said Tamara Rastovac Siamashvili, chairperson of the executive board of UNESCO.
Egyptian Minister of Culture Nevien El Kilany said that she views taking part in this forum as a continuation and strengthening of her country's friendship with China.
She said cultural relations serve as an important bond between China and Egypt. The countries, two of the oldest civilizations in human history, both advocate a culture of equality and mutual benefit, and respect cultures of other countries, she added.
Egypt is the first country in Africa and the Middle East to offer Chinese language courses in universities. Ain Shams University in Cairo established a Chinese language department in 1958. Similarly, Cairo is also home to the region's first Chinese cultural center, which was built by China in 2002, she said.
Christos Dimas, Greek deputy minister of culture, said cooperation between Greece and China has made important contributions to the development of world civilizations.
Greece and China have signed a series of memoranda of understanding and cooperation in the cultural field.
They have carried out a wide range of exchanges centered on their rich and glorious ancient cultural heritage, modern and contemporary literature, poetry, books, drama, and other creative fields, through exhibitions, performances and academic seminars, he said.
For example, in 2017, an exhibition on the art and culture of ancient Greece featuring more than 500 artifacts was held at the National Museum of China. In the same year, a number of exhibitions featuring China's art and culture, including the Terracotta Warriors, were held at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.
During the opening ceremony of the 2023 Beijing Culture Forum, a list of 10 major events held in 2022 to build Beijing into a national cultural center was released. They events included the opening and closing ceremonies of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics and the completion of the headquarters of the China National Archives of Publications and Culture.
Following the opening ceremony, Chinese and overseas cultural officials and influential figures shared their insights and experience in fields such as urban development, culture and tourism development, literature and gala directing.
Feng Yuanzheng, president of the Beijing People's Art Theatre, said that Xi's congratulatory letter has clearly pointed out future directions for Beijing to lead the inheritance and development of Chinese culture, and spread awareness about the city's temperament and culture.
The forum is a great opportunity to gather experts and insiders from multiple sectors of the industry to discuss further improvement and innovation of cultural works, he added.
Maitri Sharma, an Indian participant who has been living in China for almost 11 years, said that platforms like the forum bring together people from all walks of life and various cultural backgrounds.
"What matters is that we all come together and share the same platform, and we are working for the shared humanity," she said. "I feel that we are going on the right track and this is how we will come together and the world will be united."
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