Roundup: Silk Road Made Great Contributions to Dialogue of Civilizations: Forum

Xinhua, September 28, 2014

The Silk Road has made great contributions to the dialogue of civilizations, economic development and cultural exchanges between Asia and Europe in the past, experts said on Saturday.

During the 12th Rhodes Forum on the Greek island of Rhodes, Chinese and foreign scholars also presented the benefits for all parties from the planned resurrection of the Silk Road in the future.

Experts from Lanzhou University with the support of their colleagues in other universities from Shanghai to Canada hosted a workshop on the sidelines the ongoing 12th World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”.

The workshop, "The Silk Road: the Past and the Future of Dialogue of Civilizations", attracted the interest of several delegates from the forum.

During the five-hour round table meeting scholars, such as Professor Yang Taibao, Deputy Dean of the College of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Director of the Institute of Glaciology and Eco geography in Lanzhou University, explained the reasons why China promotes the project since 2013 and the great benefits awaiting a major part of our world.

"The Silk Road was a platform for peaceful cooperation. Today we are constantly searching for the ideal path for China's development. The new Silk Road is a new measure of developing cooperation with other countries linked to the reform policy," he said.

"The economic development belt of the Silk Road will form a new strategic architecture of full openness of China," Professor Li Xin, Director of the Center for Russian and Central Asian Studies at Shanghai Institute for International Studies, adding that Russia's parallel plan for the creation of a Tran Siberian railway economic belt should be connected to the Silk Road belt.

Taking the floor Mikhail Molchanov, Professor at the Department of Political Science of St Thomas University in Canada, agreed that "the two major projects promoted by Beijing and Moscow will complement each other and bring benefits to all states."

The task will not be easy. Pointing to troubled Ukraine Molchanov suggested that attention should be paid along the way to political tensions which sometimes mar or undermine regional economic integration.

Funding could also be a challenge, professor Vasily Simchera of the European University of Right JUSTO, added. Although about a dozen countries from India to Australia have already expressed interest to allocate part of the 50 billion dollars initial capital needed according to estimates, feasibility studies should show whether the new Silk Road is efficient to change the existing paradigm, he argued.

However, most participants stressed that the benefits would be enormous, not limited to financial terms, and the project is most worthy of the efforts.

"The new Silk Road will promote economic development and social- cultural ties, bringing peoples along the way closer," Professor Gao Yongjiu, Director of the Center for Studies of Ethnic Minorities in Northwest China in Lanzhou University and Dean of Ethnology Institute, explained, addressing the event.

"In the past many cultures were connected through the Silk Road. It was a central link in the trade web which transferred new technologies, trends and traditions. Not only goods were exchanged, but ideas and attitudes," Professor Ding Shuqin, Vice Dean of the School of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Lanzhou University, noted, concluding that it could happen again.

"The Silk Road was an early model for internationalization, a corridor for political and economic exchanges, as well as for global culture communication," Yang Lijuan, lecturer at the School of Economics at Lanzhou University said, sharing the optimism over the positive impact of the new Silk Road on trans-border cooperation.

"The new Silk Road project is creating a new model of wider cooperation which does not ignore collaboration with our partners in other regions across the world," Professor Wang Xiaowen, Vice Dean of the School of Economics at Lanzhou University assured.

For Professor Wu Wangsuo, Dean of School of Nuclear Science and Technology at Lanzhou University, the new Silk Road includes the peaceful use and development of nuclear power which is a strategic goal in the Chinese future energy structure.

For Estonian writer Khelyu Rebane, who was among the audience, there is no doubt that the attempt should be made. Her latest book is titled "Egoism, Altruism."

"There is so much egoism on this planet and so little altruism. We hope to change it. Such great projects could definitely help by strengthening cooperation among peoples," she told Xinhua.

That is the ultimate target of the annual Rhodes Forum which was co-founded by Russian Vladimir Yakunin, Indian C. Kapur and Greek N. Papanikolao: to support the better understanding and collaboration worldwide.

This year the forum has attracted about 400 scholars, state institutions, representatives of nongovernmental groups, media and businessmen from 60 countries across the globe.

A century after the First World War the theme of this year's gathering which opened on Thursday and ends on Sunday is "Preventing World War through Global Solidarity - 100 years on".