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Dialogue on different civilizations kicks off in Qufu

Confucianism, Christianity are discussed at Nishan Forum

QUFU, Shandong - Scholars from China and abroad gathered in Shandong province's Nishan city, the hometown of ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, for a dialogue on the world's two predominant civilizations - Confucianism and Christianity - on Sunday.

The first Nishan Forum on World Civilization, a two-day cultural event, initiated by Xu Jialu, vice chairman of the ninth and tenth National People's Congress, aims to strengthen equal dialogue among different civilizations and promote traditional Confucian thinking.

Some 70 experts from 11 countries are participating in the dialogue.

Today's world needs dialogue, especially dialogue among different civilizations, since many conflicts are due to "widespread misunderstanding and biases among different societies", Xu said in his keynote speech.

Xu added that nowadays countries are facing many universal problems, such as a deteriorating natural environment, social unrest and moral decay, which cannot be solved single-handedly.

"These (problems) make international dialogue and cooperation more imperative and urgent," Xu, who is the president of Nishan forum's organizing committee, said.

Domestic and overseas scholars can draw upon the legacy from Confucius and Jesus, two sages who lived 2000 years ago, in order to solve conflicts among human beings, Zhang Xiao'an, vice-president of the United Nations Association of China, told Xinhua on Saturday.

More than 170 dignitaries from around the world attended the opening ceremony of the forum, including Indonesian former president Megawati Soekarnoputri and Hungary's former prime minister Peter Medgyessy.

"It is my belief that the world order of harmony would not be achieved through the imposing of ideas and power over others, sidelining the need for dialogue. Both (the) respect for diversity and the need to (start) dialogue among diverse civilizations are mutually important if peace and harmony are being materialized," Soekarnoputri said.

Moreover, Sha Zukang, the UN under secretary-general for economic and social affairs, and former French president Jacques Chirac sent congratulatory letters to the forum.

The Nishan forum consists of four high-level meetings, eight academic sessions, one television forum and one academic plenary and is expected to climax with a Nishan Declaration of Harmony.

"I sincerely hope that this forum will act as a starting point for people with different backgrounds and faiths, to learn from each other in pursuit of a peaceful and harmonious world," said Yu Dan, professor at Beijing Normal University, who is well-known for interpreting Confucius' works on television.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

By He Dan (China Daily)

(China Daily 09/27/2010 page5)

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