Culture key to stronger ties between nations


A conference on cultural contact among Asian civilizations will help boost ties between nations in the region, an expert has said.

XinhuaUpdated: May 16, 2019

A conference on cultural contact among Asian civilizations will help boost ties between nations in the region, an expert has said.

"Asian civilizations have their similarities and uniqueness. I hope that while respecting the uniqueness of Asian civilizations, the dialogue will also attach importance to the history of mutual influence and mutual learning," said Seiichi Kondo, former head of Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs, in an interview with Xinhua on Wednesday.

China is currently hosting the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations (CDAC), which kicked off on Wednesday in Beijing.

Speaking of cultural exchanges between Japan and China, Kondo said that the history of contact between Japan and China dates back to ancient times and is a crucial component in the history of exchanges between Asian civilizations.

"Many Japanese would like to visit Xi'an and see historical sites such as the Qinglong Temple which represents Japan-China civilization exchanges," he said.

When it comes to advancing dialogues among Asian civilizations, Kondo, who used to serve as the Japanese Ambassador to the UNESCO and to Denmark, said that he believes culture is key.

Kondo said countries must put aside political and economic issues and understand each other's similarities and differences through culture.

Cultural exchanges help seek common ground while preserving differences, and also help countries learn from those differences, the expert said, adding that he believes these characteristics have a role to play in relations between China, Japan and South Korea.

With regard to specific suggestions on promoting cultural exchanges in Asia, Kondo highlighted the "Culture City of East Asia" program, born from the third Japan-China-South Korea Culture Ministers' meeting held in Japan in 2011.

Each year, the three countries select one city to promote as their Culture City.

Yokohama in Japan, Quanzhou in China and Gwangju in South Korea were selected as the first batch of Culture Cities in 2014.

The expert said that he believes Asian nations should also build ties related to their intangible cultural heritage. "Asian civilizations have long histories and splendid cultures. Not only are cultural relics a witness to the integration and development of Asian civilizations, intangible cultural heritage is also a living cultural treasure passed down by people from various countries and regions," he said.

Kondo said one overlooked characteristic of Asian civilizations is their approach to nature.

"The European concept emphasizes the greatness of human beings, and that nature is the resource and means for humans to obtain happiness. It lacks an attitude of learning from nature. The Asian way of thinking is more about learning from nature and merging with nature," he said.

"When it comes to environmental issues, the Asian way of thinking that advocates learning from nature is particularly important," Kondo said. "Asia should communicate its mentality with the rest of the world."