Statement by H. E. Ambassador Wang Xue Xian, Chinese Senior Official for ASEM, at the Second ASEM Interfaith Dialogue
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A Harmonious World Begins at People's Heart
-Statement by H. E. Ambassador Wang Xue Xian, Chinese Senior Official for ASEM, at the Second ASEM Interfaith Dialogue
Mr. Chairman, dear colleagues,
I would like to begin by thanking our host Cyprus for the warm reception and thoughtful arrangements, and Malaysia for its contribution to the meeting. After a personal experience of the harmony of the coexisting faiths in Larnaca, I felt it more than meaningful to join you in the discussion about promoting interfaith understanding and cooperation for a better world of peace and prosperity.
Since the Bali Dialogue last year, I have been asking myself some questions. What is faith? Why should we advocate interfaith dialogue? How to achieve interfaith harmony and what will it bring to the world? I would like to share with you some of my thoughts.
Our planet is home to over 2,000 ethnic groups, each having its own faith. There are 6.5 billion people on earth, most of us have faiths. The world has over 2 billion Christians, 1.3 billion Muslims, at least several hundred million Buddhists and millions of believers of other religions. Undoubtedly all the religious believers have faiths. Nonetheless, not all those who have faiths are followers of religions. There are people who accept some kind of creeds or ideals and regard them as guidelines for behaviors. That is faith, too. Faiths are as old as humanity and as diverse as mountains and rivers. It is the very existence of various faiths that make our cultures richer and the world more colorful.
Regrettably, some people do not think this way. Out of strategic needs or selfish motivation, they deliberately look at differences in faiths as antagnism and foes, and would not rest until these differences are eliminated. Being self-centered, they regard their religions and faiths superior to others', and impose their faiths and values upon others. This will inevitably lead to harsher confrontation among faiths and even brew extremism. There are also those who advocate evil cults in the name of religion, creating chaos in religions, and making havoc with the society. It has been repeatedly proved by history that faith is an objective reality, neither can it be imposed, nor deprived. The violation of this rule will not only cause conflicts among faiths but also bring disaster to humanity.
Today, we live in a world of globalization and profound and unprecedented historical changes brought about by spread use of information and communication technology. These historical changes have led to unprecedented collisions and frictions among cultures and faiths, and also created fresh opportunities to promote mutual understanding, learning and fusion. Our wisdom must work for taking advantage of the interaction among diverse cultures and faiths for the peace, development and progress of the humankind. The ASEM Interfaith Dialogue, emerging as a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-faith platform, answers to the call of our time. We should fully tap its potentials to contribute to building harmonious Asia and Europe, and a harmonious world at large.
I would also like to take advantage of this platform to share with you some of China's experience.
In China, there are 56 ethnic groups with different cultures and traditions. We have five major religions, namely, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Christianity and Catholicism, and some ethnic religions, indigenous religions and primitive worships. In this sense, China is a multi-ethnic country with diverse religions. These ethnic groups and religions respect and learn from each other and coexist in harmony. This can be attributed to two major factors: first, the Chinese Government adheres to the policy of guaranteeing the freedom of religious belief, and go to great length to promote unity among different ethnic groups and maintain a politico-religious relationship that conforms to China's national conditions. The second contributing factor is the spirit of tolerance of the Chinese culture.
Harmony is an essence of the Chinese cultural heritage nurtured by the 56 ethnic groups. The Chinese character "HE" meaning peace and harmony was first found in the ancient inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells dating back to over 3,000 years ago. Over the time the concept was developed into such thoughts as "peace is of supreme value", "seeking harmony while acknowledging differences", and "harmony of various elements creates lives". "Peace is of supreme value" refers to the perfect state of relations between nations, ethnic groups and peoples, namely, solidarity, mutual help and friendly co-existence. "Seeking harmony while acknowledging differences" means that a country or an ethnic group, while preserving its own cultural heritage, should be open and tolerant to other civilizations. "Harmony of various elements creates lives" means mutual assimilation and emulation among different cultures foster cultural renewal and progress. Harmony has always been the cohesive force that keeps the big family of China together.
I am convinced that it is beneficial to introduce "HE" or harmony into the interfaith dialogue. We should pursue mutual understanding through dialogue, strengthen cooperation on the basis of common ground and achieve harmony through tolerance. In Chinese culture, harmony is underpinned by diversity and there will be no harmony without diversity. Take human being as an example. Men and women together make a complete world that carries on. Suppose there were only men or women on the earth, humanity would face extinction. Human civilization is an embodiment of various civilizations, cultures and faiths. Without them, human civilization would come to an end.
Inspired by "HE", China has chosen "One world, one dream" as the slogan of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. It means that mankind belongs to one world and should be after a common dream.
Inspired by "HE", the Chinese Government has made the strategic decision to build a harmonious society and advocates multilateralism, common security, mutually-beneficial cooperation, common prosperity, the spirit of tolerance in a joint effort in building a harmonious world.
A harmonious world begins at people's heart. If we all have a peaceful, broad and tolerant heart, the world will be a better place to live in.
I hope my words will contribute to the understanding and tolerance among faiths, just like a harmonious breeze blowing in the hot summer.