|Statement by Ambassador WU Haitao at the High-Level Conversation on Religions for Peace of the 70th UN General Assembly|
(Photo by Li Muzi, Xinhua News Agency)
China would like to thank you for your initiative to convene today’s high-level conversation on religions for peace.
Today, we are witnessing growing religious intolerance and rampant violent extremism throughout the world, posing grim challenges to world peace and common development. Given this context, it is of great significance to discuss interaction and mutual learning between different cultures and civilizations, promote harmonious coexistence of religions, combat violent extremism and terrorism and foster a culture of peace. In this connection, China wishes to make the following observations:
First, inter-civilization and interreligious interaction and dialogue should be promoted. Our world is a big family that is diverse and colorful, thanks to all the different civilizations and religions interwoven and commingled on the same planet. We should encourage these diverse civilizations and religions to interact and converse with one another, to move forward together through exchange and mutual learning, so they become bridges of friendship among different peoples, drivers of social progress and a cohesive force that sustains world peace.
Second, the spread of religious extremist ideologies should be firmly curbed. Religious extremism is not religion. Rather, it is the ideological foundation of violent extremism. States should provide positive guidance to believers, especially young adherents, to help them shore up their defenses against ideas of religious extremism. It is necessary to reinforce regulation of the cyberspace and resolutely combat the use of the internet and social media to disseminate ideas of religious extremism, ensuring that young people are imbued with ideas and propositions that are moderate and rational.
Third, violent extremism should be resolutely suppressed. Violent extremism and terrorism are global threats. The international community should apply the same standards consistently across the world and treat violent extremism and terrorism with zero tolerance and without differentiation. All terrorist activities should meet with relentless response, irrespective of the name in which they are perpetrated, the country they target or the means employed. When combating violent extremism and terrorism, we must refrain from associating them with a particular faith or ethnicity.
Fourth, the United Nations’ role in promoting inter-civilization and interreligious communication should be brought into play. Countries should implement in good faith the GA Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, as well as the associated GA resolutions, including A/RES/70/109 on a world against violence and violent extremism and A/RES/70/19 on promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace. They should actively support UNESCO and the UN Alliance of Civilizations in leveraging their unique advantages to promote inter-civilization and interreligious dialogue and interaction.
The Chinese government pursues a policy of freedom of religious belief and actively advocates harmonious coexistence among different religions. In March 2016, during the Boao Forum for Asia, China hosted a special event, Dialogue of Asian Civilizations, which facilitated the interaction and mutual learning among different civilizations and religions in Asia. In recent years, China has worked hard to promote the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. An important part of these projects is the facilitation of dialogue and interaction among different civilizations and religions along the routes to foster communication and build rapport among different peoples.
Chinese President Xi Jinping stated at the GA general debate last September that different civilizations embody the wisdom and contributions of different nations. No civilization is superior or inferior to any other, much less better or worse. Different civilizations should converse with, not reject, one another; interact with, not supplant, one another. We should respect all civilizations, and civilizations should treat one another as equals, learn from one another, embrace and assimilate one another’s strengths and, together, promote the creative development of human civilization as a whole.
China stands ready to continue working with the international community in moving inter-civilization and interreligious dialogue and interaction ever forward and firmly combating religious extremism and violent extremism, thus making greater contributions to world peace andcommon development.
Thank you, Mr. President.