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Address for the Congress of the National Committee, the U.S. Presidential Committee of Art and Humanities

chinadaily 2013-10-30

(Washington, USA, Nov 16, 2008)

Cai Wu

Minister of Culture, the People’s Republic of China

The concept of culture is extensive. What is culture? The answers differ from one to another. But we all have the consensus about the position and function of culture in society.

Culture is the soul and symbol of a nation. When people from different countries and nations get together, we can differentiate them not just by their appearances and colors of skin, but more by the cultural characteristics inherent in national identity. When people are traveling in exotic places, what attracts them is not only the beautiful scenery, but also the unique local culture. This is the charm of culture.

Culture is an important indicator and an important part of overall national strength, and also a significant guarantor of economic and social development. Culture becomes increasingly important in modern times as a source of national unity and creativity. Rich and colorful cultural life is becoming the target that the people pursue. China is an ancient civilization with five thousand years of splendid history, people of all ethnic groups in China have created magnificent and colorful culture and art for thousands of years, showing their spiritual journeys which are different but related by blood, and forming the broad and profound Chinese culture. Valuing culture is one of our Chinese traditions. We believe that all-round social progress is inseparable from culture, so is the all-round development of humanity. Development without culture is abnormal and unsustainable.

At present, China is thoroughly applying the Address for the Congress of the National Committee, the U.S. Presidential Committee of Art and Humanities (Washington, USA, Nov 16, 2008) Cai Wu Minister of Culture, the People’s Republic of China Cultural Policy CHINA FORUM, AUTUMN 2013, Special Issue on China Culture 7 scientific outlook on development and energetically building a harmonious socialist society. The idea of a human-oriented scientific outlook on development and harmonious society is in line with the actual modernization in China, in line with people’s wishes and aspirations, and also in line with Chinese cultural traditions. Once the idea was put forth, it deeply touched the Chinese people, and received wide acclaims all over the world. Under the guidance of this theory, China's road of development will become broader and broader.

China's cultural construction should also be carried out under the guidance of the scientific outlook on development. Adhering to the principle that “ letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend” when promoting cultural development, we encourage the literary and artistic creation, protect freedom in artistic creation, and promote academic democracy. We advocate that cultural development should be human-oriented, and it must maintain and protect people's basic cultural rights and interests, and meet people’s growing and diverse spiritual and cultural needs. We also stand for the maintenance of the cultural diversity of the world, and we promote common development and prosperity of cultures of different countries and nations on the basis of mutual respect, and enhance the mutual understanding and friendship among all countries. At the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, when thousands of performers were chanting in unison the Chinese sage Confucius’ famous phrase " all within the four seas are brothers " and forming a huge Chinese character "he", which means harmony, and when performers dressed in modern neon suits were forming a pattern of a flying peace dove, Chinese people were issuing to the world an appeal that to promote development with culture and to promote peace with culture. We sincerely hope to live with the world in friendly and equal cooperation with mutual benefit and a win-win situation, and to promote the building of a harmonious world with lasting peace and common prosperity.

Recently, I noticed that some American media issued a comment of "Chinese cultural expansion" toward the fact that China strengthened cultural exchanges with other countries. As the Minister of Culture, I want to share with you my opinions here.

In its long history, China has implemented opening up for a very long period. With very close ties with the world, the cultural exchange between East and West has been prominent. Only in nearly two hundred years of modern times, China was lagging behind with a long time of isolation with the rest of the world. The history indicates that only by treating each other equally and sharing the same breath and fate can a nation progress, a country prosper. Based on the recognition, Mr. Deng Xiaoping initiated China's overall opening-up twenty years ago. In an age of globalization today, China has accelerated its pace of integration into the world. In the process of opening-up, we became increasingly aware that profound changes have taken place in China and the rest of the world. The world needs to know China better, and China needs a deeper understanding of the world. Culture is the main carrier of a nation’s way of thinking, mode of behavior and spiritual world. We can get to know a country, a nation and their people the most accurately and vividly through cultural exchanges. What we do now is to show the world China's culture, and to understand and learn from the excellent cultural achievements of each nation in Cultural Policy 8 CHINA FORUM, AUTUMN 2013, Special Issue on China Culture the world, in order to promote the development of the culture of our own nation.

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