At the recent Inter-Civilizational Communication and Global Development Forum held in Beijing, John L. Thornton, Chair Emeritus of the US Brookings Institution, praised the China-proposed Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) and Global Development Initiative (GDI). He stressed that these initiatives, if successfully implemented, would receive global acclaim, citing them as steps forward for mankind. The forum, hosted by the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, concluded with around 150 experts from over 30 countries discussing the vital themes of civilization communication and global development.
Thornton, in his speech at the opening ceremony, emphasized the importance of understanding each other as the world becomes smaller in terms of mental and physical distances. He highlighted China’s role in promoting dialogue among different civilizations as meaningful and necessary. Thornton’s viewpoint reflects a growing realization that accumulating material wealth is less important than finding a sustainable path for human civilization’s development.
Thornton’s message was underlined by his reference to a white paper titled “A Global Community of Shared Future: China’s Proposals and Actions,” published by China’s State Council Information Office. He applauded China’s efforts in fostering mutual understanding, which he sees as crucial for countries to appreciate each other’s viewpoints and advance important global agendas.
With his extensive experience in East-West relations and economics, Thornton highlighted the significance of mutual understanding as the cornerstone of international diplomacy. He noted the essential role of China-US cultural symbiosis, not only as a conduit for shared knowledge but also as a catalyst for global economic stability and peace. Thornton pointed to the vibrant exchange of students, scholars, and artists across the Pacific as evidence of a journey of shared aspirations.
Discussing a recent survey and focus groups on China-US relations and attitudes toward Chinese people, Thornton found that ordinary Americans value Chinese culture and traditions and see potential for the two nations to collaborate on global safety and security.
Thornton, drawing on his personal experiences in China, expressed admiration for the country’s rich history and rapid modernization. He encouraged more American tourists to visit China, believing that personal experiences are invaluable in deepening understanding and fostering dialogue.
Thornton further elaborated on the profound importance of China-US cultural exchanges. As the world’s two largest economies, robust relations between these countries are not just bilaterally beneficial but globally necessary. Their collaboration or conflict could potentially affect the entire world. Thornton highlighted their joint efforts in addressing global challenges like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In conclusion, Thornton’s insights at the Beijing forum underscored the path forward for China and the US, one marked by shared cultural experiences, mutual respect, and a dedication to peace and progress. He advocated for a vision where the two nations not only coexist but also thrive through mutual enrichment, underscoring the importance of their relationship in the global order.