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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/27/19

It is a Confluence of Civilizations: Beijing Conference refutes Huntington's Clash of Civilizations worldview

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Route of Belt and Road Initiative
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China hosted a two-day Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations (CDAC) to boost exchanges and mutual learning among Asian civilizations. The CDAC theme was "Exchanges and Mutual Learning among Asian Civilizations and A Community with A Shared Future."

It brought together more than 2,000 government officials and representatives of various circles from 47 Asian countries and other nations outside the region.

Among those attending were: King of Cambodia Norodom Sihamoni, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Singapore President Halimah Yacob, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

In his inaugural address, the President of China, Xi Jinping, underlined that this Conference "creates a new platform for civilizations in Asia and beyond to engage in dialogue and exchanges on an equal footing to facilitate mutual learning".

President Xi highlighted the importance of the interactions in Asia, as these interactions between civilizations "have enriched each other and written an epic development". He elaborated also:

"Our forefathers in Asia have long engaged in inter-civilizational exchanges and mutual learning; the ancient trade routes notably the Silk Road, the tea road and the spice road brought silk, tea, porcelain, spices, paintings and sculpture to all corners of Asia, and they have witnessed inter-civilizational dialogue in the form of trade and cultural interflow."

"No civilization is superior over others. The thought that one's own race and civilization are superior and the inclination to remold or replace other civilizations are just stupid," the Chinese leader said adding:

"All civilizations are rooted in their unique cultural environment. Each embodies the wisdom and vision of a country or nation, and each is valuable for being uniquely its own. Civilizations only vary from each other, just as human beings are different only in terms of skin color and the language used. No civilization is superior over others. The thought that one's own race and civilization are superior and the inclination to remold or replace other civilizations are just stupid. To act them out will only bring catastrophic consequences". What we need is to respect each other as equals and say no to hubris and prejudice."

Pehaps Xi was alluding to Huntington's theory of Clash of Civilizations. In 1992, American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington proposed the hypothesis of the Clash of Civilizations that people's cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. Huntington later expanded his thesis in a 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.

The concept of a clash of civilizations, suggested by the Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington, is based on the notion of the Western domination of the world. In an article entitled "The Clash of Civilizations?" Huntington predicts that future world politics will be determined by conflicts between different civilizations/cultures. He envisaged that future competition and conflict would be based not on national perceptions and goals but on larger cultural groupings "civilizations", of which he identified eight civilizations: the Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African civilizations. He took note of the fact that the failure of western ideas of nationalism and socialism had produced a return to the roots phenomenon among non-western civilizations, such as Asianisation in Japan, Hinduisation in India, "re-Islamization" in the Middle East, and Russianisation in Russia. He further concluded that the most potent challenge to the West would arise from the anti-western cooperation between Islamic and Confucian states. He obviously had in mind the cordiality between China and such Islamic countries as Pakistan and Iran.

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky called it just being a new justification for the United States "for any atrocities that they wanted to carry out", which was required after the Cold War as the Soviet Union was no longer a viable threat.

"We have to support oppressive states, like Saudi Arabia and others, to make sure that they guarantee that the profits from oil (it's not so much the oil as the profits from oil) flow to the people who deserve it: rich western energy corporations or the US Treasury Department or Bechtel Construction, and so on. So that's why we need a huge military budget. Other than that, the story is the same," Chomsky said in a lecture delivered at the Delhi School of Economics on November 5, 2001.

He went on to say: "What does this have to do with Huntington? Well, he's a respected intellectual. He can't say this. He can't say, look, the method by which the rich run the world is exactly the same as before, and the major confrontation remains what it has always been: small concentrated sectors of wealth and power versus everybody else. You can't say that. And in fact if you look at those passages on the clash of civilizations, he says that in the future the conflict will not be on economic grounds. So let's put that out of our minds. You can't think about rich powers and corporations exploiting people, that can't be the conflict. It's got to be something else. So it will be the 'clash of civilizations' the western civilization and Islam and Confucianism."

Edward Said

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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