Mutual learning vital for Asian cultures

Jia Wenshan | Published: May 16, 2019 20:48:48

Take China, India and Japan, three major Asian powers for example. In ancient times, China learned about Buddhism from India, while Japan drew on China's civilization in Tang Dynasty (618-907). After the 1980s, China started to use Japan's modernization experience as reference, and India took examples from China's economic development and improvement in people's livelihood. It seems that Asian civilizations are now entering the next phase - simultaneous mutual learning. China can draw lessons from other civilizations, and it is also able to offer some experience.

Take China and Japan, for instance. Japan's spirit for technological innovation, its brand-building awareness and its dissemination of its culture are worth studying. Japan, meanwhile, can learn from China to attain strong self-efficacy and inclusiveness. Japan is distancing itself from Asia in favor of the Wes. It ought to re-identify itself in this new era as a significant Asian nation.

India has abundant spiritual resources. Since reform and opening-up, China has concentrated on economic development but to some extent ignored the construction of spiritual civilization in the society. Surely we hold Marxism as our political conviction; however, India's diverse and inclusive spirit merits attention.

China's reform and opening-up has helped push China at least 20 years ahead of India in economic development. Therefore, India is not only attracting China's investment, but also borrowing China's experience. 

In addition to providing other Asian civilizations with experience in infrastructure construction and poverty alleviation, China has also proposed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI is first and foremost an initiative beneficial to Asia. Many Asian countries have already responded to China's call, but India is an exception. As a major Asian power, India should really reconsider joining BRI for its own economic improvement. Japan once proposed Pan-Asianism, which unfortunately became the theoretical basis of its militarism. An Indian poet and a Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore also put forward Pan-Asianism idea. It is time now to reopen discussion of Pan-Asianism.

The new Pan-Asianism should be agreed on by many Asian countries, rather than advocated by just one. It should be transnational and conducive to the welfare of all Asian civilizations.

Many in the West believe the 21st century belongs to Asia. The 21st century, or the "Asian century," is characterized by the China-proposed BRI and Asian globalisation.   

Certain foreign forces have long sought leadership in Asia, especially the US and its allies. But it must be made clear that Asia first and foremost belongs to Asians. We Asians must master our own destiny and never let foreign forces control and ruin the region's future.   

The only option for Asia's future is sharing for prosperity and harmony. To reach this goal, Asian countries should unite, communicate, exchange, and cooperate in education, trade, and international governance, and so on, especially under the BRI framework. It is even feasible for Asian countries to build an Asian community of common destiny. 

An Asian community of common destiny can lay a solid foundation for building a community of mankind with a shared future. Unilateralism and hegemony almost never existed in the history of ancient Asia. In pre-modern times, wars hardly broke out between Asian civilizations; the formation of civilizations was mainstream. But in modern history, it has been tough for Asia to unite due to Western colonialism. 

Europe has also attempted to establish a European Community but encountered numerous obstacles. However, resilience is coded in Asian values. Teamwork and cooperation permeates in Asian ways. Thus, it may be easier for Asia to build a community than Europe. Asian countries should excavate and carry forward these core cultural values shared by the region and institutionalize them to create an Asia based on coexistence and co-prosperity. Asia should first build a regional community of a common destiny through the platform of the BRI, and then help build a community of mankind with a shared future. 

The BRI is based on relationships rather than a zero-sum game. These relationships represent reciprocity, equality, mutual assistance, mutual tolerance, mutual understanding, and mutual learning. This is the philosophical foundation for the community of mankind with a shared future. 

As for the "clash of civilizations" hyped by the US in recent days, it is more about a strategy serving a handful US politicians' unrealistic fantasies rather than a civilization theory and it can by no means represent public opinion.


The author is professor at School of Communication, Chapman University and a non-resident research fellow at National Academy for Development & Strategies, Renmin University of China. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Share if you like