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Exchanges and Mutual Learning Among Civilizations

By:The Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies

Exchanges and Mutual Learning Among Civilizations

Promoting exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations is China's basic stance on dealing with inter-civilizational relations. Diversity spurs exchanges among civilizations, which in turn promote mutual learning and their further development. This embodies China's new concept of civilization. 

A sign of social development and progress, civilizations also represent the ideas and values of different societies. Therefore, civilizations are naturally diverse rather than monotonous. Since the middle and late 20th century, due to drastic changes in the international situation, particularly the end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the direction for the development of world civilizations has greatly changed. 

In the 1990s, Harvard University professor Samuel Huntington proposed the Clash of Civilizations theory, arguing that after the Cold War, the determinants of the world landscape manifested themselves in seven or eight major civilizations, namely, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Islamic, Western, Orthodox, Latin American, and possibly African civilizations. For Huntington, in the post-Cold War world, the root cause of conflict would no longer be ideological in nature but a "Clash of Civilizations."

China's new concept of civilization was created on the basis of traditional Chinese culture, particularly Hehe Culture. Its starting point and purpose are very different from those of the Clash of Civilizations theory. China champions equality, mutual learning, dialogue, and inclusiveness among civilizations. Respecting the diversity of world civilizations, China advocates that estrangement, clashes and superiority be replaced with exchanges, mutual learning and coexistence. Exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations should be deepened, so that all the people from different countries can understand each other in a friendly manner and face global challenges together. The civilization of each country and nation is deeply rooted in its soil, and has its own inherent characteristics, strengths and virtues. Great efforts should be exerted to preserve the diversity of civilizations, and enhance mutual communication, learning and reference, instead of mutual estrangement, exclusion and even displacement. Only in this way can the garden of world civilizations be full of vitality.


文明交流互鉴,是中国处理不同文明的关系问题的基本立场。文明因多样而交流,因交流而互鉴,因互鉴而发展,这是中国新型文明观的集中体现。文明是社会发展进步的标志,也代表着不同社会形式的思想内涵和价值立场,从这个角度来说,文明原本就应当是多元的而非单一的。20世纪中后期以来,由于国际社会形势的突变,尤其是美苏冷战局面的结束,世界文明发展的方向有了重要的改变。20世纪90年代,哈佛大学教授塞缪尔•亨廷顿(Samuel Huntington)提出文明冲突论,认为冷战后,世界格局的决定因素表现为七大或八大文明,即中华文明、日本文明、印度文明、伊斯兰文明、西方文明、东正教文明、拉美文明,还有可能存在的非洲文明。冷战后的世界,冲突根源不再是意识形态,而是“文明的冲突”。


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