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Print Edition> Lifestyle
UPDATED: October 18, 2010 NO. 42 OCTOBER 21, 2010
Discourse Between East and West
The first Chinese-hosted cultural dialogue between the East and the West was held in Nishan, Shandong Province

MEETING OF IDEAS: Xu Jialu, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the first Nishan Forum on World Civilizations, has a dialogue with Robert H. Schuller, founding pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, in Garden Grove, California, the United States, at the Nishan Forum on September 26 (CFP)

The first Nishan Forum on World Civilizations kicked off on September 26 at Nishan Mountain, 25 km southeast of Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius. As the first of its kind held by the Chinese, the Nishan Forum presented a dialogue between Confucian civilization and Christian civilization.

"Confucian civilization and Christian civilization are the two civilizations with great influence around the world," said Xu Jialu, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Nishan Forum on World Civilizations. "Dialogue and exchange between the two civilizations are imperative and significant at the moment. The two great civilizations in the era of globalization need to strengthen communication and understanding so as to establish a new harmonious relationship based on mutual respect and mutual appreciation."

Xu said the dialogue will be an effort for Confucian civilization and Christian civilization to jointly build a new relationship as the world becomes a global village.

"I am very happy to see China hold this forum. China has a diversified culture, including Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. China's wisdom and pursuit of harmony can guide us," said former French President Jacques Chirac in his congratulatory letter to the forum.

Former Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri and Hungary's former Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy attended the forum.

"It is my belief that the world order of harmony would not be achieved through the imposing of ideas and power over others, while 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," said Megawati.

The dialogues at the forum were mainly about four topics: social responsibility, social credit, tolerance and diversity, and harmony. More than 170 dignitaries, including Confucian scholars, Buddhists and Taoists from China and more than 30 scholars and Christian personages from the United States, Britain, Germany, Italy, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Thailand, attended the two-day forum.

Robert H. Schuller, founding pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, the United States, was invited as a distinguished guest. At the forum, Schuller and Xu talked about religious belief and the crises existing in the world, including environmental pollution and military conflicts.

"This is the biggest event in my life," said Mel Steward, a visiting philosopher at Peking University. "There are similarities between Confucianism and Christianity, which can be used as a bridge between the two."

At the closing ceremonies of the forum on September 27, the Nishan Declaration of Harmony was announced. The declaration highlights the wisdom of Confucius and advocates Confucian codes of conduct, like tolerance and harmony with diversity, in order to prevent conflicts among civilizations.

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