The first trade route linking Asia to Europe was created by the Chinese more than 2000 years ago. It was called “the Silk Road”, in reference to the most transported goods on this famous road. However, in such a big traffic, goods were not the only goods that were traded. Indeed, since men traveled such distances, it also allowed cultures to mix and ideas to circulate from one country to another.
China launched the new Silk Road
In 2013, Xi Jinping decided to bring this road back to life, as it represents one of the most glorious times that China has ever known. He, therefore, launched “The New Silk Road“. This gigantic network will be connecting China to the rest of the world to promote trade, political, but also social-cultural exchange. Although borders barriers felt several years ago and it is now really easy to go from one country to another. Yet cultural barriers sometimes remain.
This new road will, therefore, encourage the meeting of artists around the world. It can be a good opportunity to promote the mixture of cultures, art, and know-how of every country. Because when two countries do business together, they do not just trade goods and capital. It is an intercultural dialogue that is created. These exchanges can, therefore, help countries to understand each other; to help one another and to unite in a crisis situation. Even UNESCO strongly supports this initiative, because, in our world where conflicts, fear, and destruction are more and more present, this kind of project is a good promise of hope for the future.
The project is therefore clear: The Cultural Silk Road will encourage cultural exchanges, strengthen friendships and try to ensure good diplomatic relations and peace between the partner countries. But while we know that 50 million dollars have been invested to finance the New Silk Road, no information has been contacted as to the part dedicated to the “cultural” part of the Road, which is primarily economic.
Chinese expatriate spread the Chinese culture around the world
Chinese foreign affairs director, Tan Tianxing, said he relies on Chinese expatriates to spread Chinese culture around the world. They can be a major asset because they know both Asian and Western culture. By having knowledge of two countries, two cultures, they can be a link between them. However, to encourage this international exchange, expatriates must promote their culture rather than simply blend into a foreign one. The number of expatriates is not an issue.
They are really numerous to move to foreign countries, especially young exchange students or young active people. However, they tend to discover and adapt to the country’s culture. Of course, they do not forget theirs, but they do not share it enough with other nationalities. Some even reconstitute a Chinese community in their country of expatriation. This is why Chinese culture is still largely unknown abroad. It is also made up of false ideas and stereotypes that do not give China an image as beautiful as it could have. This is why expatriates are very good assets to restore the truth and share the real Chinese culture. Tan Tianxing said, “Only by making foreign people feel the beauty of our culture and fall in love with our culture, can our culture spread wider”.
Many upcoming projects
A good example of concrete proof of the improvement of cultural cooperation through the New Silk Road is one of the Franco-Chinese relationships. Indeed, while the freight train linking Wuhan to Lyon proved the future economic cooperation, the Cultural Forum ensures the cultural and artistic cooperations to come.
The first Forum of “The Cultural Silk Road” was held in Beijing in May 2016. It took place the following year in Lyon, France. Each country will alternatively host the Forum to set them on equal footing and promote each of them. It aims to create a link between artists and cultural institutions in France and China. As several workshops and conferences are organized, everything is done for professionals from both countries to meet and exchange. For example, the 2017 forum allowed participants to discuss topics such as:
- Museums: What is their role? How to manage them?
- Cinema: How to teach it? How to create it? How to broadcast it?
- Urban development: How to maximize its attractiveness?
- Innovation and creativity: Idea sharing
- The art of living and gastronomy
- University exchanges
In addition to offering an exchange of culture, helping to know and understand the partner country better, this type of event is particularly interesting for professionals in the sector. Indeed, it is a great opportunity for start-ups and entrepreneurs to meet Chinese professionals. These meetings could lead to numerous cooperation and partnerships. That is the proof that the New Silk Road holds a bright future for the participating countries, on an economic, political and socio-cultural point of view.
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