Decoding China: World's youth look to the future with GCI
Updated 19:32, 10-Oct-2023
Decision Makers

Editor's note: Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is China-centered, internationally applicable; it caters to the present and is geared towards the future. In CGTN's Decoding China series, domestic and international high-profile officials and experts from various fields share their experience and talk about Chinese governance and its global implication. In this episode, Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy looks at Xi's Thought from the perspective of Global Civilization Initiative.

CGTN: Both Egypt and China are ancient civilizations with rich cultural traditions. The Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasizes the importance of promoting inclusiveness among civilizations. How do you reflect upon the GCI?

Nabil Fahmy: On the specific proposal regarding civilizations, we live in a global environment. Some in the West, like to define it more in the material means and look at globalization only as a material package. Old civilizations like China, like Egypt tend to look at it, if you want more comprehensively, we live in a well-connected world, which means we need to live together, not try to live as identical civilizations with identical cultures. So the basic concept of tolerance, of a shared future, of respecting each other's civilizations is something that I'm very happy to see focused on in the Chinese initiative. And I really would like it to be even more widely expanded in practical terms.

CGTN: As an Arab proverb goes, actions are fruits while words are but leaves. How do you think the Global Civilization Initiative differs from the Western concept of development? What experiences does it offer for communication between countries?

Nabil Fahmy: I don't want to exclude the Western concept for development. But my criticism of that concept is that it assumes that its concept is necessarily the best one and the one that we all need to emulate. My approach, which I think is, in many ways consistent with also the Chinese initiative, is we need to take the best out of each of our civilizations and respect each other.

Let's see how best to develop with a collective approach. It's not a zero-sum game of one versus the other, of one having to beat each other. We need to all gain. It has to be about the common good about a win-win situation. This idea of an exclusive civilization is conceptually difficult for me to swallow. And especially coming from an old civilization, we know that we have a long record and a lot of achievements and we respect all civilizations like ours, because we respect history. But I'm not excluding the Western civilization. But I don't want to emulate that necessarily.

CGTN: In your opinion, what more should be done to promote cultural exchanges and interactions?

Nabil Fahmy: I'm trying to invest in our common future in the youth, in particular. It is not enough for government officials to meet, to have agreements, to develop projects. That's always important. But if you really want to invest in sustained development, you need to have a better understanding of each other's communities.

Therefore, whether it is, when I come to China, or even when I was here in academia, I would always encourage our students to look towards Asia, to look towards China. And at the American University in Cairo, where I created a school for global affairs, I made the point that global affairs is not about the West alone. It's about the whole world. And every January, we would invite students from Chinese universities to come and visit our university, to come and visit Egypt. And I said the same thing to my colleagues at Egyptian embassies in China and Chinese embassies in Egypt, (they) need to expand cultural exchanges with universities, with think tanks, with youth groups, facilitate Arabic teaching in China and Chinese teachings in the Arab world, so that our communities can deal with each other.

CGTN: Could you kindly share some interesting stories about your efforts or your observations as to promote mutual understanding between China and Egypt?

Nabil Fahmy: I can tell you when we came and spoke at Peking University, I was surprised by the mixture of students. The majority of course were Chinese, but I found a very large number of African students in particular. And I was extremely pleased that the Chinese students who asked the questions did not focus on China-U.S. or what did I think of China-U.S. Because that's the same question I get when I go to the U.S. They asked me what do you think of China-U.S.

The Chinese students actually asked me what as an Egyptian do I think of China? What would I want from China as an Egyptian? So it's a reflection that your initiative on civilization and development is not only a government posture, but it's actually something that's being embraced by your people. And that is something that is extremely impressive. I've been trying to push a lot of Egyptians to visit China. The businessmen have already started. They've gone to your industrial sectors, but I'm also trying to push youth to do that, because that's really where I think the future is.

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