Ambassador H.E. Zhang Zuo's Speech at "World Peace through Interfaith and Intra-faith Dialogue"
2018/12/12

(November 28th, 2018)

Principal Sukomal Barua, President of Religions for Peace, Bangladesh,

H.E. Asaduzzaman Khan, Hon'ble Minister of Ministry of Home Affairs,

Mr. Shampad Barua, Secretary of President's Office,

Reverend Nobuhiro Masahiro Nemoto, Secretary General of Religions for Peace-Asia,

Professor Abu Bakar, Secretary General of Religions for Peace, Bangladesh,

Distinguished Guests and Scholars,

Assalamu alaikum and good morning.

It's a great pleasure for me to be invited at the closing ceremony of the Seminar under the theme 'World Peace through Interfaith and Intra-faith Dialogue'. I'd like to have a discussion with the experts and scholars here on promoting inter-faith dialogue and jointly building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind against the background of multiculturalism.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In line with the trend of the times for peace, development, and win-win cooperation, Chinese President, H.E. Xi Jinping proposed a visionary idea to build a community of shared future for mankind. Since its inception, this idea has been constantly enriched with the practice of global cooperation including the Belt and Road Initiative and contributed to establishing a new international order of fairness and justice with Chinese wisdom and formula to the solutions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The core of building a community of shared future for mankind, presented by President Xi Jinping in the report at the 19th CPC National Congress in October, 2017, is to build an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world with lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity. In line with this, I'd like to put forward some suggestions on how to promote inter-faith dialogue and to build a community of shared future for mankind against the background of multiculturalism.

First, to build a community of shared future with common responsibilities.

As early as 2000 years ago, Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher, had said that "within the four seas, all men are brothers", which embodied the ancient Chinese world view. The Great Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) once said, seek knowledge, even unto China. So, many Muslims at that time went across the ocean to China. In China we also say, go to west for 'sutras'. It means if you want to learn the genuine Buddhist sutras, go to the birth place of the Buddha. It was originated from the story where the famous Chinese monk Hsuan-tsang of Tang Dynasty travelled to India to study Buddhist literatures. On the secular side, Confucius held the view that a just cause should be pursued for common good. The spirit has been preserved till this day when Chinese president Xi Jinping proposed to "build a community of shared future for mankind", which has been applauded by the international community and is generating an even wider and deeper impact around the world.

These vivid examples show that the global village is a decision made by people around the world. There should be more exchanges among nations and civilizations for mutual understanding, rather than mutual resentment. It is important to set up platforms for communication instead of walls against each other; to take dialogue as the golden rule, and become good friends who feel intimate even being thousands of miles away.

Second, to build a community of shared future with win-win cooperation.

Confucianism, established by the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, upholds that living things that are nourished by nature will not injure one another, a vivid explanation for the ancient Chinese idea of universal harmony. In fact, as far back as 2000 years ago, the ancient silk roads opened a new window for many countries for mutual respect and friendly exchanges. Through the silk roads, different civilizations, religions and races jointly wrote down a splendid chapter of win-win cooperation as they sought common ground while shelving differences, and opened up with inclusiveness. The great Bangladeshi Buddhist monk, Atish Diponkor, went to Tibet to spread Buddhism in 1038 A.D. Despite his original plan to have a short stay, he stayed in Tibet for 16 long years and passed away there in 1054 A.D. He helped to reform the Buddhism in Tibet, rooted out hereditary beliefs and contributed to local medicines, water projects and translation of literature. About 400 years ago, Matteo Ricci from Italy and Schall von Bell from Germany sailed thousands of miles to China during Ming and Qing Dynasty to preach Catholicism. During the process they got to know about Chinese culture and had a positive influence on China's medicines, mathematics, paintings, calendar and mapping techniques.

These vividly show only by joining the same cause and carrying out win-win cooperation, can we build a community of shared future for mankind and improve people's well-being. As President Xi Jinping pointed out in his keynote speech at the opening session of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017, "mankind has become a close-knit community of shared future. Countries have extensive converging interests and are mutually dependent." It requires us to push the economic globalization towards a more opening, inclusive, and balanced direction for win-win cooperation.

Third, to build a community of shared future of cultural prosperity.

The diversity of human civilization is one of the basic features of our world, also a source of progress. Fa-hsien was a Chinese monk in East Jin Dynasty. In 399 AD, at the age of 63, he left then China's capital, Chang An, and embarked on a journey to the west, in a quest for Buddhist thoughts. After going through difficulties beyond ordinary people's imagination, he became the first man who travelled through land and sea to reach what is now India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, also the first man in written records to reach the Indian subcontinent to pay tributes to Buddhist sites and bring back Buddhist sutras. Since the very arrival of Catholicism and Protestantism in China, the ancient and mysterious land, they have been undergoing dialogues and integration with Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism that are inherent to the Chinese culture, to pass on and evolve further in China. Nowadays, Catholicism and Protestantism have become a significant part of Chinese religious structure, as they have well adjusted to the Chinese society, and at the same time merged into a religious culture with Chinese characteristics.

These fully exemplify that diversity brings communication, communication fosters integration, and integration produces progress. As President Xi Jinping stressed in his Congratulatory Letter to the Fifth Annual Conference of the Taihu World Cultural Forum, "the mutual learning among civilizations is an important driving force for the progress of human civilization and the peaceful development of the world. Men have always been moving forward during the encounters and assimilation of different nations and cultures. We should respect the diversity of world civilizations, promote inter civilization exchanges and dialogues with harmony and inclusiveness, and develop together through communications and mutual learning.

Fourth, to build a community of shared future of common security.

Ancient Chinese gave great emphasis to harmony among all states and believed in peaceful co-existence of different countries. Throughout China's history, there's never been a war among different religions, nor a large scale warfare triggered by religious issues. The reason for this lies in the high tolerance of Chinese culture. China believes that, one can only be better off when everyone else is well. Since the 1990s, Xinjiang has been giving equal importance in fighting and preventing terrorism. It sought to combine the fight against violent terrorist crimes with the protection of human rights and launched a vocational education and training program following the law. Currently, Xinjiang has established a training model with professional vocational training institutions as the platform, learning the country's common language, legal knowledge, vocational skills, along with de-extremization education, as the main content, with achieving employment as the key objective. Its purpose is to get rid of the environment and soil that breed terrorism and religious extremism and stop violent terrorist activities. It has played an important role in achieving social stability and enduring peace and security in Xinjiang, and served as a positive exploration and constructive attempt for the international community in countering terrorism and eradicating extremism.

I hope to stress that as terrorism and extremism are gaining popularity, they pose a grave challenge to peace and development. We need to form consensus in fighting against terrorism and extremism, and solve security issues through dialogue, negotiation and win-win cooperation.

Fifth, to build a community of shared future of harmonious co-existence.

Planet Earth is the only home to mankind. The unity between man and nature is an important idea of classic Chinese philosophy which underlines respect for nature and harmonious relations between man and nature. In his famous work the Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, Hsuan-tsang, the great Buddhist monk of Tang Dynasty, wrote down his observations and descriptions of the ancient Bangladesh. It reads, "Agriculture is prosperous, both flowers and fruit thrive." "Water tanks, guest houses and flowery woods are interspersed." "The climate is mild and pleasant and the people are simple and honest by social custom." It is a flourishing population that lives beside waters. The song Amar Shonar Bangla, written by Rabindranath Tagore, depicted Bangladesh in the season of harvest, when all the crops ripe into an alluring golden colour.

History is the best teacher. As we are faced with the challenge of climate change, these written records can remind us that only by observing the laws of nature can mankind avoid costly blunders in its exploitation. That's why President Xi Jinping believes that "man and nature form a community of life; we, as human beings, must respect nature, follow its ways, and protect it." we should together advocate for a green, low carbon, recyclable and sustainable development, and protect the planet earth, the only home to mankind.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The ancient Chinese sailor, Zheng He, made 7 westbound voyages with his fleet and travelled all over Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and Africa, bringing with him China's goods and friendship. Out of the 7 voyages, he reached this area at least 2 times. Mutual learning between the cultures and traditional friendship are the foundation for China-Bangladesh partnership of Strategic Cooperation.

Both China and Bangladesh are countries with multiple ethnicities and religions. So, enhancing religious visits and communications between the two countries can have important realistic implications for China and this region as well as for the world, and for the promotion of mutual learning among the cultures.

Though the current world is faced with tremendous changes unseen during the past century, culture is the bridge and bond which connects all countries, regions, nations and religions for greater mutual trust and win-win cooperation.

I'd like to congratulate you sincerely for hosting such a successful seminar. I believe the rich outcomes of this seminar will surely contribute to enhancing the dialogues and communications among different religious groups.

Thank you. Dhonnobud.

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