Cultural exchange and mutual understanding among civilizations lie at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to representatives who recently earned accolades at the inaugural Silk Road Global News Awards. This sentiment was particularly pronounced during their visit to the Poly Art Museum in Beijing.
The Poly Art Museum stands as a testament to China’s dedication to celebrate and preserve its traditional arts and culture. It also serves as a platform for recovering invaluable Chinese cultural relics that have found their way overseas. The visiting representatives were captivated as they delved into China’s vast history and witnessed firsthand the rich cultural tapestry that underpins the BRI.
A highlight of the museum tour was the showcase of Chinese bronze artifacts, which are more than 3,000 years old. These antiquities, renowned globally for their intricate and enigmatic designs, served as windows to ancient Chinese artistry and craftsmanship. Branko Zujovic, a Serbian journalist associated with Pecat Weekly, expressed his admiration for these relics, noting their uniqueness and age. “Europe doesn’t house artifacts like these,” Zujovic mentioned. His fascination for Chinese history was evident, particularly his admiration for the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and the epoch’s artistic contributions.
In addition to the bronze works, the museum displayed over 40 stone-carved Buddhist statues, originating between the 5th and 8th centuries. These statues not only symbolized the zenith of the ancient Silk Road but also epitomized the amalgamation of Eastern and Western cultures. The influence and evolution of Buddhism in China were of particular interest to Faruk Borić, the Executive Director of the Center for the Promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Borić emphasized the authenticity of learning from direct sources, stating, “Experiencing it firsthand is very different from hearing or reading from secondary sources.”
Both Borić and Zujovic championed the importance of cultural exchange in international collaborations. They agreed that for countries to come together and realize the potential of initiatives like the BRI, there’s an imperative need to understand and appreciate one another’s cultures and histories. Borić poignantly noted, “Without mutual understanding, fear and prejudice can cloud perceptions. It’s through this mutual learning that we find commonalities across cultures.”
Zujovic shared insights from his five-year stay in China, drawing a contrast between his firsthand experiences and often skewed portrayals in some Western media outlets. He underscored the importance of facilitating visits between younger generations from countries like China and Serbia. “By experiencing each other’s cultures firsthand,” Zujovic opined, “our youth become ambassadors, sharing positive narratives and building bridges for the future.”
Such exchanges, steeped in mutual respect and curiosity, serve as pillars supporting the ambitious goals of international initiatives like the BRI. The shared experiences at the Poly Art Museum undoubtedly reiterate the age-old wisdom that understanding and appreciating diverse cultures paves the way for genuine cooperation and progress.