Why the diversity of civilizations matters?
Updated 18:20, 15-Aug-2023
Yves Mouillet

Editor's note: There is no culture or civilization superior or inferior to another, but only being different. Rather than separating us, cultural diversity makes our world a beautiful place. Having lived in and traveled to more than 30 countries, Yves Mouillet, a news anchor at CGTN French, gets a deeper sense of this diversity. In today's China Talk, he will share with you why cultural diversity matters. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.

Hello and welcome to China Talk. I'm Yves Mouillet, a news anchor at CGTN French. I've been working for CGTN's French language channel for almost 12 years. Today I would like to share with you my view about the "diversity of civilizations," and tell you why it matters to me.

I'm French, but I have Polish heritage from my mother's side. So for me, the global civilization we are living in makes a lot of sense, because I have been raised to fit in a multipolar world, where people respect and appreciate their differences. After more than 22 years living abroad in more than 30 countries, including nearly 15 years in China, I can affirm that a constant effort to reach out to others, to open oneself fully to a foreign culture and to master foreign languages are fundamental endeavors. These are the kind of efforts that one must make to grasp a true knowledge of today's world. That's why the Global Civilization Initiative and the respect for the diversity of civilizations as advocated in the initiative make a lot of sense to me. These ideas remind me of the Constitution of the UNESCO with key words like peace, mutual respect and equality between races.

The Global Civilization Initiative is a new way of promoting and defending the diversity of civilizations from a different point of view, a different angle. As you know, China is home to 55 ethnic minorities, each with their own specific traditions and values. Based on what I saw in China, and given my personal experience in this country, the Chinese government has always been preserving and promoting ethnic cultures, showing respect for each and every one of them. As you can see in these pictures, villagers wearing ethnic costumes give performance during the "Village Super League" football games "in southwest Guizhou Province." In order to maintain a deep sense of being grounded and to preserve their identity, minorities are encouraged to study their own culture and their own writing system. In a way, it's a bit like being educated twice as much!

Besides showing appreciation to the culture of ethnic minorities, the Chinese are aware of the importance of other countries' history and culture. Rather than forcing others to pursue a path that is not theirs, China believes that people should adopt solutions that fit their own cultures and conditions.

At the same time, China is also championing the inclusiveness of civilizations. An example that I would like to share with you is the Chinese sci-fi movie "The Wandering Earth 2," which I think was a huge success in terms of cross-cultural approach. If you watch American movies, most of them are very nationalistic. What I really enjoyed about "The Wandering Earth 2" is the fact that every country has a role to play to save the world. In this movie, many languages are spoken, so you can feel the director's respect for diversity. Toward the end of the movie, people from all over the world sacrifice themselves for the sake of humanity. It's a good reminder of the equality between races, as we all live on the same planet.

As far as we all know, China has a rich history of engaging with other civilizations. Notable examples include the Chinese navigator Zheng He, who embarked on voyages to the West Pacific and the Indian Ocean during the Ming Dynasty. There's also the journey of Xuanzang to India, a Tang Dynasty monk who brought back Buddhist scriptures. Not to mention China's cultural exchange along the ancient Silk Road and the modern Belt and Road Initiative. There is an old Chinese saying: "The ocean is vast, because it accepts hundreds of streams and rivers." This exemplifies the courage and the willingness to learn from other countries' excellent cultural achievements.

Why do I think it carries great significance for us to understand and appreciate each other? Imagine I have a mirror in my hand. If I hold it like this, I definitely cannot see my own reflection. But imagine, if I take a few steps back, I will be able to see myself from a new perspective, and that will allow me to better understand my own roots, my own culture. I can finally see myself from another perspective, another angle. And I think that way I can understand where I come from and why I behave in such a way. In addition, stepping back from your own center can help you understand that there is no culture better than another, but that there are only different ways to live.

If you only have one culture in mind, you see the world in black and white. The more culture you have in your "backpack," the more you will see the world through a multicultural lens. And this kaleidoscopic outlook is definitely more precise, more objective.

And that leads me to my third point. I think cultural prejudice stems from ignorance, which is the common cause of war. That's why too often we suffer from wars. I think nowadays we tend to forget what humanity has been through. So now I would like to quote the first sentence in the UNESCO Constitution: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed." The Global Civilization Initiative is a re-actualization of what needs to be done in the modern world, with all the challenges that we are facing now. This is a new way of promoting and defending the respect and the diversity of civilizations from a different point of view, a different angle. My understanding of China's perspective is that it displays a real people-centered approach, a real commitment to global cooperation, growth, peace and exchanges between civilizations.

But above all, there's a real respect for each country and the way they explore their unique path to modernization based on national conditions. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and independence and diversity are upheld. For China, developing countries have the right to pursue their own modernization path while at the same time, every one of them should respect and support choices made by different nations. The Global Civilization Initiative proposed by China is precisely trying to achieve that, and it advocates equality, mutual learning, dialogue, inclusiveness as well as appreciation for different value perceptions. These are needed to ensure a prosperous and harmonious future for humanity.

It's possible, as long as people from all over the world keep an open mind, and as long as they are ready to see a different China in a different world. After all, you can't see the difference with your eyes closed. Real knowledge is the best tool to change stereotypes.

Thank you!

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