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Speech at the Conference Attended by Deputies from China’s Ministry of Culture and Culture Departments of Mainland Provinces, Municipalities Directly under the Central Government, Autonomous Regions and Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions

chinadaily 2013-10-30

(Hong Kong, China, 8 October 2009)

Cai Wu

Minister of Culture, the People’s Republic of China


Among all the glorious enduring cultures of after over five thousand years still stretches along the world, the Chinese culture is the only one that from its beginning without any break and always keeps renewing itself. While being proud of this, we also are exploring the secret for the everlasting heritage and vigor of China’s culture.

There are multiple reasons behind this secret and I hold that one of them is the spirit of perseverance and innovation imbedded in the Chinese culture. About 20 years ago, it was also in Hong Kong that Fei Xiaotong, a famous sociologist, put forward and explained that the Chinese nationalities are both diverse and integrated. This view has highlighted that the Chinese culture, which has undergone five thousand years’ molding, remains profound in its essence, harmonious in structure, inclusive in content and studious in learning attitude. It is the very gene of heritance and innovation that has shaped the prosperous Chinese culture. Although there were days when the Chinese culture was constrained or suppressed, as time goes by, this culture can still keep reforming and renewing itself.

The new century offers a brand-new opportunity for the Chinese culture’s prosperity and development. Under the guidance of the scientific outlook on development, China’s government has set the goal of building a harmonious society with putting the culture construction as an unprecedented priority. Along with political, economic and social development, culture development, which is an important component of the overall growth layout, was stressed for its great prosperity in the report to the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Both government officials and citizens have become more and more aware of the strength that derives from culture. It is nationally recognized that the Chinese culture is not only a vital source for our nationality’s power of cohesion and creation, but also serves as a critical factor in the competition of our overall national strength. To promote the heritage and innovation of the Chinese culture has become a common acknowledgment and common wish for all the Chinese people.

The grounds for promoting the heritage and innovation of the Chinese culture can be explained from three perspectives.

Firstly, the intrinsic mechanism of culture development will inevitably enhance the heritage and innovation of the Chinese culture. Culture of any type should be an open system which can be adapted to the changes of the times by reforming and renewing itself so as to keep its vitality and vigor forever.

However, the culture’s reform and renewal should never deviate from its origin or foundations otherwise it will lose its own essential roots. The Chinese culture enjoys the wisdom of how to inherit and innovate. By recalling our nation’s history, our predecessors and scholars have dedicated themselves to compiling numerous books for the purpose of recording the national culture generation after generation and they are so proud of the precious and splendid fruits previously achieved. Speaking of our grand cultural inheritance, there are typical works such as the Yongle Encyclopedia and the Complete Library of the Four Branches of Literature; as for innovation, in the Shang Dynasty, the Engraved Characters by the Emperor Tang wrote that we should always renew ourselves day after day, and the Book of Songs read that the even an old country like Zhou (B.C 1036 – B.C 771) should still pursue innovation as well. Therefore, we should absorb the cream of the enduring Chinese culture and carry it forward to bring glories to our ancestors and benefits to our future generations. Secondly, the opportunities for development we face demand enhancing culture heritage and innovation. At present, our culture construction is enjoying its fastest growth. Domestically, new people-oriented concepts for culture development have become basic rules for culture construction with ways of cultural management and service changing fundamentally. Guaranteed by related policies and funds, reforms for the cultural system have kept deepening and remarkable achievements have been reached in both cultural enterprises (not-for-profit) and cultural industries. Internationally, with the problems surging worldwide in the fields of environmental issues, religious discord and regional conflicts, the concept of harmony and the mode of settling disputes through dialogue advocated by the Chinese culture are becoming more and more recognized by the world. As the fallout of the global financial crisis still remains, China’s role and the Chinese culture have showed their unique advantages and in the meantime the contra-cyclical rule has created infinite space for the culture’s new round of development despite the economic woes.

Thirdly, the rapid growth of modern science and technology has pushed forward the heritage and innovation of Chinese culture. The economic and social grounds, on which Chinese culture relies, have undergone and now are still experiencing far-reaching changes particularly including the emergence of digital technology and the Internet which have fundamentally changed the way of our lives. The means of cultural transmission has broken the limits of time and space. Someone argue that the international competition of the 21st century is the competition of culture. Hence, the Chinese culture can only expand its influence and get a leading position in the competition of overall national strength by actively absorbing modern technology.

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