UNESCO chief lauds China’s efforts promoting cultural dialogues along Belt and Road

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UNITED NATIONS, April 20 (APP): The head of U.N.’s cultural agency has called China’s Belt and Road Initiative a “fascinating project” that encompasses some 60 countries and promotes cultural dialogues and diversity along the route.
“I’m more than convinced that only economic prosperity cannot bring
happiness, sustainability and harmony in societies…We also need the soft power; we need to develop education; we need to develop intercultural dialogues; we need to develop understandings thus bring more social inclusion and equity in societies, and this is where UNESCO brings our contribution,”Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said in interview with Chinese media, released by Xinhua on Wednesday.
The initiative, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, having
already won the support of over 100 countries and international organizations, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes, which were inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 2015.
This goal coincides with that of the UNESCO’s own Silk Road Project
launched in 1988, which is to promote intercultural dialogues and establish links between different cities and civilizations along the historic trade routes, so as to achieve prosperity and harmony, Bokova told reporters.
The UNESCO chief will attend the Belt and Road Forum for International
Cooperation, scheduled for mid-May, which will bring together at least 28 heads of state and government and is expected to yield major outcomes including the signing of cooperative documents between China and around 40 countries and international organizations.
Recalling her own visits to many historic sites along the Silk Road,
Bokova said she has always been amazed by how intercultural dialogues were developed over 2,000 years ago.
“This is something that we should encourage nowadays if we want to see more prosperity, more connectivity, and more mutual understanding among the peoples, which in my view will accompany trade, investment and economic prosperity,” she said.
Bokova said she was particularly impressed by the speech by President Xi on his visit to UNESCO Paris headquarters in March 2014, in which the President underlined the importance of the Silk Road and intercultural dialogues, a message that remains highly relevant today.
“It is very relevant because unfortunately we see extremism, we see
destruction; we see a different vision of the world. This is why our cooperation with China is so important, and this is why the Belt and Road Initiative is so important,” she explained.
She cited examples of the atrocious destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha in Afghanistan in 2001 and the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria earlier this year.
“The extremists destroyed these heritages because they rejected the same view about diversity in the world,” she said. “We should educate young people about diversity. We have to prevent violent extremism through supporting heritage, through supporting diversity.”
On cooperation between China and UNESCO, Bokova said that the
relationship has developed substantially. China already boasts 50 inscribed World Heritages, and has co-organized successful events on creativity and education with the UN agency.
“China’s also supporting some of our projects in the other parts of the world, including in Pakistan, in Afghanistan and in western Africa. I think all these bring a lot of substance, and a lot of very concrete examples of how jointly we can change the world for the better,” she added.