A U.S. expert famous for his study on Asian history and culture said that he hopes Asia could promote the co-existence and development of peoples throughout the world on the basis of its historical and cultural experiences.
“Asian civilisation has contributed to the technological and cultural development of the world in many ways for thousands of years,” Charles K. Armstrong, professor of the Department of History of Columbia University, said in an interview with Xinhua through email ahead of an international conference on dialogue of Asian civilisations to be held in Beijing.
Specialising in East Asian and international history, Armstrong used four keywords to define his impression of the Asian civilisations; history, innovation, harmony and connection.
“Asia has the world’s oldest continuous civilisations, from the ancient Middle East to India and China, which have made unsurpassed contributions to world civilisation as a whole,” the expert said.
“Many of the world’s greatest inventions came out of Asia, in both material and intellectual fields such as agriculture, technology, writing, religion, philosophy, literature, and the arts.”
Armstrong explained Asian cultures’ emphasis on harmony, saying that “because Asia has a long history of densely populated and complex societies, Asian cultures have tended to stress social harmony and cooperation over individual competition and conflict.”
The expert also highlighted the idea of “connection” among Asian cultures.
“Asian societies have been linked through transportation networks, trade, and cultural exchanges since ancient times,” he said. “The trading networks we now call the ‘Silk Road’ linked all of Eurasia, from East Asia to Europe.”
“Asia is the source of the earliest continuous long-distance human connections and is once again a leader in international trade and transportation technology … Moreover, large Asian societies such as China have been places where people of many different beliefs and backgrounds have co-existed for many centuries,” the expert noted.
“Therefore Asia can build on its historical experience to promote development, cooperation, mutual respect and co-existence of peoples throughout the world,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Armstrong spoke highly of China’s role in the development of Asia civilisations and the world at large through history, and in contemporary times.
“China has been the leading economy and strongest state for most of world history over the past 2,000 years,” he said. “Its technological innovations, such as the compass, paper, and gunpowder, have changed the course of world history.”
China’s interactions with South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia have led to the development of great artistic and religious achievements, he added.
In contemporary times, “China is contributing enormously to the global economy and new technological developments,” the U.S. expert noted. “It has become a catalyst for connection and exchange throughout Eurasia and beyond, in the spirit of pluralism and peaceful co-existence of different political, economic and social systems.”