China’s Ambassador to Sweden: Global Civilization Initiaitve Brings Harmony to World

H.E. Mr. Cui Aimin, Ambassador of The People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Sweden gave the following keynote speech at the webinar organized by the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden (BRIX) on June 28, 2023 under the title “Decoupling or Bridging Civilizations: A Call for a Global Civilization Initiative”. (watch keynote speech / YouTube).

Honorable guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,


Good morning! It is a great pleasure for me to attend today’s webinar and have an in-depth exchange of views with you on the Global Civilization Initiative (GCI), a topic with rich connotations of our times. First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to BRIX for organizing the event. I would also like to thank BRIX and all the guests for your dedication to enhancing the mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese and Swedish people. I look forward to hearing your insights on the above topic. Next, I would like to share several of my understandings on the GCI with you:

Firstly, the GCI is an important part of the concept of a human community with a shared future. In today’s world, multiple challenges and crises are intertwined, the Cold War mentality is resurging, and geopolitics and the use of ideological tools are somewhat prevalent. The dregs of “theory of civilization superiority” and “theory of clash of civilizations” have been once again stired up. Whether countries will go into conflict and confrontation or share prosperity with each other, and whether history will go backward or forward, depends to a large extent on how we view and deal with the differences among different civilizations. In March this year, President Xi Jinping put forward the “Global Civilization Initiative” at the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-level Meeting. This marks another major initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping, with a focus on the building of a human community with a shared future, after the Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative. It is China’s latest answer to the question of the century—“what is wrong with this world and what we should do about it”, and it provides more guidance and inspiration for the future of human society. Ever since the initiative was put forward, it has attracted great attention and warm response, and has been widely welcomed by all sides.

The GCI advocates seeking wisdom and nutrition from different civilizations, learning from each other’s strengths, and making progress together. It emphasizes on fully drawing on the rich philosophies, profound humanistic spirit and noble moral concepts in human civilization. It supports working together to solve major issues concerning the future of the world and the future of mankind, and letting exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations become the driving force for the progress of human society. The core concept of the GCI is the “four joint advocates”, that is to jointly advocate respect for the diversity of civilizations, jointly advocate the common values of humanity, jointly advocate the importance of inheritance and innovation of civilizations, and jointly advocate the robust international people-to-people exchanges and cooperation.

Respecting the diversity of civilizations is a prerequisite for exchanges and mutual learning among them. The sun has seven colors, and the world is colorful. There are more than 200 countries and regions, more than 2500 ethnic groups, more than seven billion people and various religions in the world. Whether it is an agricultural civilization or an industrial civilization, whether it is an eastern civilization or a western civilization, they all carry different historical heritage, ways of thinking and ways of life, and they all exist for their own reasons. There is no distinction among them in terms of good and bad or supeior and inferior. There should be no discrimination, hostility and conflict among different civilizations. It is precisely because of the diversity of civilizations that there is value in exchanges and mutual learning. In a world that is interconnected and interdependent, building a human community with a shared future requires the participation of people from all over the world and the nurturing by the diverse civilizations. History tells us that only by promoting exchanges, mutual learning and inclusiveness among civilizations can we realize “cherishing one’s own beauty and cherishing and respecting each other’s beauty”. Practices of preaching civilization superiority, creating barriers and conflicts, engaging in zero-sum games and “winner takes all” may prevail for a while, but will eventually disappear in the long river of history.

Carrying forward the common values of all mankind is the guiding philosophy of exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations. Mankind lives in one global village, and we are becoming more and more a community with a shared future where you are part of us and we are part of you. We objectively have common interests, which inevitably requires common values. The common values of all mankind, namely peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom represent the ideal values long pursued by people all over the world and the common aspirations of the current international community. They are the “common language” of different countries, nations, and civilizations. At present, some countries are forcefully imposing their own values and models on others, forming all kinds of small circles that exclude others, and even creating divisions and confrontations in the world out of selfish interest under the pretext of “de-risking”. This kind of behavior must be rejected and resisted. China will continue to be a staunch advocate and active practitioner of the common values of all mankind, and make continuous efforts to promote the development and progress of human civilization, so that the gardens of civilizations of the world will be colorful and full of vitality.

Attaching importance to the inheritance and innovation of civilizations is the source of motivation for exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations. Only by attaching importance to historical inheritance and development can civilizations maintain inexhaustible vitality and cohesion. The Chinese civilization is the only great civilization in the world that has not been interrupted and has continued to this day. Though having traversed more than 5,000 years of history, it has always been in continuity and is prominently consistent. Attaching importance to the inheritance of civilization is an ancient and long-standing historical tradition of the Chinese nation, which fundamentally determines that the Chinese nation must follow its own path, and it must be able to walk its own path well. In the process of promoting Chinese modernization and realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the Chinese people have full cultural confidence, inherit and carry forward the fine traditional Chinese culture, promote the creative transformation and innovative development of Chinese civilization, and adapt the most basic cultural genes the Chinese nation to the contemporary culture and the modern society. The Chinese people are comprehensively coordinating the development of material civilization, political civilization, cultural civilization, social civilization and ecological civilization. We have created a new form of human civilization and will write a remarkable chapter in human history.

Strengthening international people-to-people and cultural exchanges and cooperation is an effective path for civilization exchanges and mutual learning. There is an old Chinese saying: “One studying without exchanges with others will be ignorant and ill-informed.” Communication and interactions among civilizations are the basis for mankind to live together in harmony. The formation and development of ancient Chinese and western philosophical thoughts are inseparable from the exchanges and integration among early human civilizations. The similarity between Confucius’ “world of great harmony” and Plato’s “the Republic” is not accidental, but is historically inevitable. Compared with political and security cooperation and economic and trade cooperation, people-to-people and cultural exchanges and cooperation are more long-lasting, broader and deeper. They are not only a bridge connecting the emotions and hearts of the people but also a bond to deepen mutual understanding and trust between countries. At present, the world has entered a new period of turmoil and change. With the resurgence of theories of west-centric and clash of civilizations, international cultural exchanges and cooperation are facing severe challenges. Against this background, it is even more urgent and necessary to build a global civilizational dialogue and cooperation network and form a diverse and interactive landscape of humanistic exchanges.

Secondly, the GCI injects development momentum into a closer global partnership. Ten years ago, President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), combining China’s development with the development of countries along the route, and combining the Chinese dream with the dreams of the people of the countries along the route. It endows the ancient Silk Road with new connotations of the times. It provides a global platform for building a community with shared interests and a community with shared future featuring political mutual trust, economic integration, and cultural inclusiveness. Ten years later, the BRI has attracted the participation by more than 3/4 of the world’s countries and 32 international organizations, and has become the most extensive and largest international cooperation platform and the most popular international public good of the world today.

The proposal of the GCI will undoubtedly inject a stronger impetus into the people-to-people bond among the BRI countries. It will make their cultural exchanges more fruitful and make the BRI a road for cultural exchanges and mutual learning, a road of harmonious coexistence of civilizations and people-to-people bonds, and a road of common prosperity with cultural exchanges and cooperation. By hosting art festivals, film festivals, cultural relics exhibitions, book exhibitions and other activities, China and countries along the route have built a bridge of friendship for people-to-people and cultural exchanges and mutual cultural appreciation. The Silk Road international theater alliance, museum alliance, art festival alliance, library alliance, and art museum alliance have been established successively. They have grown to cover 539 members from 92 countries and two international organizations. More than ten cultural exchanges and education cooperation brands such as the “Luban Workshop” have been gradually formed, and various cultural exchange outcomes have been achieved, which has continuously promoted the mutual understanding and friendship of people from all over the world.

Thirdly, the GCI will benefit all countries in the world, including China and Sweden. The history of friendly exchanges between China and Sweden and the two peoples is a history of exchanges and mutual learning between different civilizations. More than 280 years ago, the voyage of ship “Götheborg” to China opened up the maritime Silk Road cooperation between the two countries, which not only brought prosperity and benefits to the people in the region, but also laid an important foundation for the friendly relations between the two countries. Not long ago, I was invited to participate in the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Gothenburg. At the celebration, the organizers introduced the history of the development of Gothenburg, most of which is related to China. It fully reflects the long history of friendly exchanges and cooperation between China and Sweden, and is an example of exchanges and mutual learning between the east and west.

Looking back at the history, we are encouraged by the sincere and profound friendship between the two countries; looking forward to the future, we should also firmly move forward along the path chosen by our forefathers. Today, China is Sweden’s largest trading partner in Asia, and Sweden is China’s tenth largest trading partner and third largest investment destination in the EU. The economic and trade relations between the two sides are very vibrant, and there is huge potential for cooperation in green, low-carbon, scientific and technological innovation and other fields. We welcome countries including Sweden to firmly stand on the right side of history and the side of the progress of human civilization, actively support and participate in a series of Chinese initiatives such as the Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative, Global Civilization Initiative and the BRI, continue to elevate the level of practical cooperation between China and Sweden, and jointly broaden the road to the progress of human civilization.

Let me conclude by wishing the webinar a full success! Thank you!


See the recording of the webinar!