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Statement by Counsellor YAO Shaojun of the Chinese Mission to the United Nations at the 2017 Meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations Group of Friends

2017/04/19

Your Excellency Mr. El-Nasser, High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations,

China would like to thank you for presiding over this meeting to discuss the item of “Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue Process as a Tool for PreventingConflict and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding”. I would also like to thank you and other distinguished guests for your opening remarks. Peace is a shared aspiration and a noble goal of the entire humanity. Today’s world is far from being peaceful with regional hot-spots flaring up one after another, terrorist forces proliferating and traditional and non-traditional threats increasing. How to effectively prevent conflicts and build a lasting peace is an important issue facing the UN and its membership.

China believes that strengthening dialogue and exchanges on an equal footing among different civilizations will give an important impetus to human progress and world peace and development. On January 18 this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a speech at the United Nations Office at Geneva in which he advocated the establishment of a community of shared future for mankind and the building of a clean and beautiful world of lasting peace, universal security, common prosperity, openness and inclusiveness. President Xi stressed that the international community should engage in exchanges and mutual learning and build an open and inclusive world. The diversity of human civilizations is both a basic feature of our world and a source of human progress. Differences among civilizations should not become a cause of conflicts. Instead, different civilizations should learn from each other and make progress together so that inter-civilizational exchanges and mutual learning can become a driving force for human progress and a bond for maintaining world peace.

Interreligious and intercultural dialogue is a significant component of inter-civilizational exchanges and mutual learning, and an important means for conflict prevention and post-conflict peacebuilding. The preamble of the Constitution of UNESCO states explicitly that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”. Interreligiousand intercultural dialogue can work on people’s minds to eliminate sources of conflict and sow the seeds of peace. It can increase mutual understanding and mutual trust among different nations and states, eliminate misunderstanding and estrangement, and reduce potential tensions and conflicts. It can promote mutual respect and mutual tolerance among different religions, root out discrimination and intolerance, and get rid of the breeding ground of violent extremism and terrorism. It can also help heal mental wounds in the post-conflict era, create a peaceful, conciliatory and harmonious social atmosphere, and lay down a solid foundation for post-conflict peacebuilding. In turn, the success of conflict prevention and post-conflict peacebuilding will help promote dialogue on an equal footing among different religions and cultures.

The international community should respect the differences among various religions and cultures and facilitate their dialogue and exchanges on an equal footing. Countries need to fully leverage the critical functions of education and the media, facilitate the dialogue among different ethnic groups and promote the understanding and tolerance of different religions and cultures. It is incumbent on all states to take forceful measures to combat hate speech and strengthen the regulation of the Internet to prevent it from becoming a tool for spreading terrorism and violent extremism. Incitement of terrorist acts and terrorist propaganda should be criminalized. Post-conflict countries should, based on their specific conditions, use interreligiousand intercultural dialogue as an important tool for promoting reconciliation and enhancing social coherence so that the whole society will work together to maintain stability and realize development.

Mr. High Representative,

One of the main goals of China’s “One Belt and One Road” initiative is to promote inter-civilizational exchanges and mutual learning. People-to-people bonds represent one of the five pillars of our Belt and Road initiative and cultural exchanges are an effective means to strengthen people-to-people bonds among countries along the Belt and Road. From May 14 to 15, China will host the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing, to further deepen international cooperation in areas such as infrastructural interconnection, industrial investment, economic and trade exchanges, financial support and cultural exchanges. We are convinced that the sustained implementation of the “One Belt and One Road” initiative will bring real benefits to the people of participating countries, facilitate the creation of a new type of international relations with win-win cooperation as its core, establish a community of shared future for mankind and contribute to the building of a world of lasting peace and shared prosperity.

Thank you for your attention.

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