BEIJING, June 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — In a survey conducted by the Global Times Research Center from April 12 to May 17 across 21 Asian countries, interviewees overwhelmingly expressed immense pride in being part of Asian civilization. This resounding sentiment reflects the deep-rooted connection Asian people feel toward their diverse cultural heritage and the potential for a more united Asia.
Exchanges and mutual learning between different civilizations within Asia has contributed significantly to the progress of human civilization, a latest survey by the Global Times Research Center on Asian civilizations shows.
The majority of Asian respondents in the survey, which received 23,149 valid responses from 21 countries, said they believe this recognition of the value of cultural exchanges underscores the potential for greater unity and growth within the region.
Over 90 percent of respondents are convinced exchanges and mutual learning among different civilizations in Asia benefit the progress of the world’s shared human civilization.
Across Asia, the belief in the positive impact of cultural exchanges resonates strongly. The survey captures a snapshot of Asian sentiment, showcasing the profound pride Asian people feel for their rich cultural heritage and their belief in the power of cultural exchanges for promoting human progress.
Zhou Yongsheng, deputy director of the Japanese Studies Center at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that the results of the survey are “fairly good” and that the shared “Confucian philosophy” in Asian countries, especially East Asian countries, enhances the region’s unique discourse power on the international stage.
Zhou told the Global Times that a “Confucian cultural sphere” formed in Asia. At the core of this sphere is a “noble ethic system” that believes in “benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom and faith.”
“Such qualities representing Asian virtues have increased the diversity of world culture and world communication,” Zhou said, adding that one of China’s diplomatic charms is its willingness to embrace and respect different cultures.
The rich tapestry of Asian cultures, languages, traditions and ideas has fostered an environment where learning from one another is cherished.
Collective strength from civilizations
From the ancient Silk Road to modern-day initiatives, such as the Belt and Road Initiative, Asians have long embraced the spirit of exchange, nurturing an ever-evolving tapestry of ideas and innovation.
The exchange of knowledge and practices between Asian nations has played a pivotal role in shaping advancements in science, technology, philosophy, art and more.
Zheng Changling, secretary-general of the China Folk Culture Innovation and Development Center, said he came to recognize the significance of exchanges between Asian civilizations after participating and organizing numerous cultural events with Asian countries.
“Through this kind of cultural exchange, we can better understand each other, thus contributing to a sense of cultural identity,” said Zheng, who is also a research fellow at the Chinese National Academy of Arts.
By appreciating and learning from the wisdom of different Asian civilizations, societies can harness their collective strengths and accelerate progress in various fields.
Dev Raturi, an Indian businessman living in China for almost two decades, told the Global Times on Monday that the “importance of exchanges between Asian countries plays a vital role toward the development of the region as well as working together on key areas,” including agriculture and food security, climate change and disaster management, digital technology, education and financial growth.
A community transcending boundaries
As the survey results indicate, a majority of Asians envision a future of increased unity among nations in the region.
Over half of the respondents expressed optimism, highlighting the potential for an Asia that stands together, united by common goals and shared prosperity.
This collective sentiment resonates with the concept of an “Asian community with a shared future” that seeks to strengthen cooperation and foster mutual understanding.
“There is still a lot of room for the unification of Asia in order to promote mutual growth and development. Sixty percent of the world’s population lives in Asia, among which 40 percent live in China and India alone,” Raturi told the Global Times.
“Although currently India and China are not having the best of diplomatic relations, the leaders of both nations are meeting on various platforms to discuss and address current issues,” he said.
He added that both countries play a “pivotal” role and have significant importance in maintaining peace, harmony and development of Asia.
“There is lot of economic exchanges and growth in trade among both nations. I am hopeful that diplomatic relations will get better as well soon,” Raturi said.
The idea of an Asian community transcends political boundaries, emphasizing the interconnectedness and interdependence of nations working for a brighter future, experts say.
“The reason why Asian countries need unity is that we share the goal of common development,” Zheng told the Global Times.
“As we share similar cultural thinking, we are able to develop together.”
Through enhanced regional cooperation, Asian countries can address common challenges such as poverty, environmental degradation, and economic inequality.
Tu Yunmu, an international relations expert, told the Global Times that Asia is rich in ethnic and religious diversity and China’s concept of “equal respect” is a fulcrum to the ethos of “a community with a shared future for Asia.”
“China’s connection with its neighbors has always been based on ‘equality and mutual trust.’ This is the charisma of China, which makes other countries trust it on projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative,” Tu noted.
The overwhelming majority of respondents in the Global Times poll expressed optimism about the future, emphasizing the importance of unity among Asian nations.
However, it is also evident that challenges to Asian peace and security persist, with external interference being a significant concern.
Increasing alert of external orchestration
While Asians celebrate their diverse heritage and strive for unity, they are also aware of the challenges that confront the region.
The survey revealed that three-quarters of respondents perceive risks to Asian peace and security, and they understand the need to address these challenges proactively to maintain stability and ensure a prosperous future.
Strengthening regional mechanisms and frameworks, such as ASEAN, can promote cooperation, prevent escalation, and ensure a rules-based order that upholds the principles of sovereignty, mutual respect and non-interference.
When asked about the main causes of these risks, a majority of respondents pointed toward the interference of external powers, with the US being identified as a primary factor. This perception highlights the complex geopolitical dynamics that shape Asia’s security landscape.
Under the orchestration of extended forces, the presence of competing interests, territorial disputes and power rivalries pose significant challenges to the region’s stability, says Raturi. He thinks it is crucial for Asian nations to engage in dialogue and diplomacy to resolve conflicts peacefully and build trust.
Zheng noted that some disharmonious voices have appeared in Asia, disturbing friendly communication, but he says this is just a temporary phase.
“Our Asian compatriots will eventually see the long-term benefits brought by the common development of Asian civilizations,” Zheng said.
China has proposed “Belt and Road Initiative,” “a global community with a shared future,” and the maintenance of world peace, stability and development, which all serve the better development of mankind.
Certain Western countries that blindly confront others will only bring about mutual losses in the end, Zheng noted.
As Asia continues to navigate its path toward unity and progress, it is essential to foster dialogue, understanding, and collaboration among nations, while appreciating and preserving the unique identities that contribute to the vibrancy of Asian civilization, according to Zheng.
By harnessing the power of cultural exchanges, strengthening regional unity and addressing security challenges with a spirit of cooperation, Asia can move toward a brighter and more prosperous future for all its people, said Zheng.