Explainer: Unraveling peace-loving DNA of Chinese civilization

Updated: June 13, 2023 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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BEIJING, June 12 (Xinhua) -- "In this vast world, I may be like a small feather. But even so, I want this feather to carry a wish for peace."

These are excerpts from the diary of He Zhihong, a Chinese peacekeeper who died in the line of duty while serving on a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in Haiti in 2010. She was just 35.

Peace is in the blood of the Chinese people. Amity with neighbors, universal peace, and harmony without uniformity are values that have been cherished in the Chinese culture for millennia.

An aspiration for peace is one of the five defining attributes of Chinese civilization highlighted by President Xi Jinping at a high-profile meeting on cultural inheritance and development on June 2.

The peaceful nature of Chinese civilization fundamentally determines that China will continue to build world peace, contribute to global development and safeguard the international order, said Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, when addressing the meeting.

About 2,400 years ago, a great Chinese philosopher Mozi said that "the strong and the rich should not bully the weak and the poor." And a military work from over 2,000 years ago put forward the wisdom of the "war-like state, however big it may be, will eventually perish."

The pursuit of peace and harmony is deeply rooted in the spiritual world of the Chinese nation. This can be seen everywhere from the Confucian idea that "a gentleman should seek harmony in diversity and should not do to others what he would not like himself," to Chinese sociologist Fei Xiaotong's vision of a world in which countries treasure their own distinct heritages, appreciate other cultures and promote shared prosperity.

The peaceful nature of Chinese civilization fundamentally determines that China will continue to pursue exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations rather than cultural hegemony. It also determines that China will not impose its own values and political system on others. China is a champion of cooperation, not confrontation. Never will it dish out favors to acolytes and punishments to opponents, Xi said at the meeting on June 2.

Influenced by pro-peace ideologies, China has followed a path of peaceful development throughout its history of more than 5,000 years, leaving no record of colonization or aggression against any other country.

In Singapore's maritime museum, a full-sized replica of a three-story treasure boat that set sail from China some 600 years ago is on display to honor the great Chinese navigator Zheng He.

Commissioned by the emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Zheng led the then biggest fleet in the world on seven expeditions, visiting over 30 countries and regions, including Singapore. In sharp contrast to Western powers that were busy making colonial expansions, they did not take a single inch of land, but instead brought Chinese silk, tea and porcelain to the people they encountered. The ship is still regarded as a symbol of peace, friendship and exchange by many countries.

China has never engaged in external expansion because, according to Chinese wisdom, knowing when "enough is enough" is the key to lasting stability, Xie Maosong, a senior researcher at the National Strategy Institute of Tsinghua University, wrote in a signed article on the peaceful nature of Chinese civilization.

This pro-peace philosophy also applies to state-to-state relations. China has always been committed to its foreign policy goals of upholding world peace and promoting mutual development.

It has proposed the building of a human community with a shared future at a critical moment when the world has once again reached a crossroads in history, as zero-sum games and hegemonic and bullying acts of strength are wreaking havoc to the weak.

China has delivered on its commitments with concrete actions. It has continued to be the largest contributor of peacekeeping troops among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, and it has played an active role in defusing security risks and handling global security challenges. It launched the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013 and has since built it into a high-quality public good that benefits the world.

China has embarked on a new journey to build itself into a great modern socialist country in all respects, and to advance the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization.

Chinese modernization, the largest modernization drive in the history of humanity, offers the world a new path to modernization.

In contrast to the brutal and blood-stained path of enrichment at the expense of others taken by some countries, China's pursuit of modernization is a path of peaceful development.

China will not tread the old path of war, colonization and plunder in its pursuit of modernization. It will strive to safeguard world peace and development as it pursues its own growth, and will make greater contributions to world peace and development through its own development.

This pursuit of peaceful development has demonstrated the Chinese people's confidence in and commitment to realizing its development goals, Xi said when delivering a speech in Berlin in 2014.

"Such confidence and commitment are rooted in the rich heritage of Chinese civilization, in our understanding of the conditions needed to achieve our development goals, and in our keen appreciation for global development trends," Xi said. 

Editor: Li Shimeng