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Ambassador Cao Zhongming's Reply to the Letter from a Belgian Student
2020-11-17 17:42

November 2nd

Dear Nathan,

I am glad to receive your letter. I can see from your letter that you and your teacher are very interested in China, have done a lot of thinking, and raised very good questions. Values are the key to understanding national culture. I would like to share with you my views on the issue of Chinese values. I hope it will be helpful to you.

Whether it is China or Europe, every era has its spirits. The values of the Chinese people have always been deeply rooted in the fertile soil of China's traditional culture. In the meantime it advances with the times, constantly enriching and developing. The core values of contemporary Chinese can be summarized as: prosperity, democracy, civilization, harmony, freedom, equality, justice, rule of law, patriotism, dedication, integrity, and friendliness. These 12 words form an organic whole, complementing each other and each is indispensable. They are not only inheritance of China's excellent cultural traditions, but also absorbs the beneficial results of world civilization, and also carries the Chinese people's yearning for a better life in the new era.

Discipline and family values have always played a very important role in Chinese culture. The "ritual" in ancient Chinese values includes the connotation of discipline. Confucius said: "See nothing without ritual, hear nothing without ritual, speak nothing without ritual, do nothing without ritual" which means that all people's words and deeds conform to the requirements of "propriety", and must obey the rules. There was an outstanding thinker in ancient China named Xu Heng. He was fleeing with many people. When he was hungry and thirsty, he saw a pear tree on the side of the road full of sweet pears. Everyone was fighting to reach the pear and quench their thirst but Xu Heng did not move. Everyone laughed at him and said: "The owner of this pear tree is no longer here. Why do you mind?" Xu Heng said, "The master is still in my heart even if he is not present here." The master in Xu Heng's heart is the Chinese "ritual". It is discipline and rules valued by the Chinese culture. Today Chinese people also pay attention to discipline and abiding by the rules. We stand for multilateralism, and that international affairs should be dealt with through consultation, and that all established rules should be followed together. President Xi Jinping once said, "Unilateralism, protectionism, and extreme self-interest do not work in today's world." When everyone plays by agreed rules, our world gets better.

The family is the most important place for the Chinese to cultivate and practice core values, and the Chinese also attach great importance to the family. At the same time, for the Chinese, the family and the country are connected as a whole. Therefore, "all people" are called "the greater family" in Chinese. In order to defeat the COVID-19, countless Chinese make sacrifices in their family to fight against the epidemic and serve the "the greater family". After the epidemic in China has been well controlled, many Chinese medical expert teams rushed to countries and regions with serious epidemics to aid local prevention and control. These are actions practicing the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind and to protect the greater family of the world.

The "Chinese Dream" proposed by President Xi Jinping is also based on the core socialist values. It is the common dream of all Chinese and the dream of "the greater family". To finally realize the "Chinese Dream", China's 1.4 billion people must work together for it. The realization of the "Chinese Dream" will not only benefit the Chinese people, but also make greater contributions to the prosperity and stability of the human family.

The German philosopher Leibniz once said: "There are no two leaves that are exactly the same in the world." Different nations and countries have their own core values due to their different natural conditions and development processes. Due to different political ideas and cultural backgrounds, there will be differences in understanding of some important values between the East and the West, but this does not mean that they are completely different or even diametrically opposed. Human values have both particularity and universality. There are many similarities between European and Chinese values: "Freedom and equality" are our common yearning for a better society; "Justice and the rule of law" are our common expectations for good social governance; "Integrity and friendliness" is our common principles followed in interpersonal communication. The great achievements of human civilization today are the result of continuous exchanges and dialogues between different civilizations, learning from each others' strengths and common progress.

I hope that what I said here will help you understand the Chinese culture better. I will be happy to continue such interactions with you. Please feel free to share with me your views and thoughts. When you have the opportunity in the future, I hope you will travel, study and live in China to experience Chinese values and Chinese culture firsthand.

Yours Sincerely,

Cao Zhongming                     

Ambassador of the People's Republic of China

in the Kingdom of Belgium          

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