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Culture exchange to aid new Silk Road: official

2014-05-23 09:11 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

Culture and art exchanges should be used as the primary way to encourage multilateral trust between China and Central Asian countries to promote the Silk Road economic belt, said Lü Jianzhong, chairman of the Shaanxi Folk Museums Association in Xi'an, Shaanxi province Thursday.

"We can't directly go to Central Asian countries, exploring their markets and asking for natural resources," said Lü.

He added that more cultural exchanges between China and those countries will help them understand the meaning of this new Silk Road and realize that China will not be the only beneficiary of the Silk Road economic belt.

Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Silk Road economic belt during a visit to Kazakhstan in September, 2013. He proposed that China and Central Asian countries compare notes on their respective economic development strategy and work together to formulate plans and measures for regional cooperation.

Xi also proposed a 21st century maritime Silk Road while in Indonesia in October last year.

To promote cultural exchange, said Lü, an art exhibition that includes nearly 200 Silk Road-related paintings by top Chinese artists will open in the Tang Dynasty West Market Museum in Xi'an Friday, the day the 18th Investment & Trade Forum for Cooperation between East & West China and the Silk Road International Expo opens.

The investment and trade forum will focus on the Silk Road economic belt. In a separate session, a group of culture product traders from countries along the Silk Road will also gather at the museum, site of an international trade market during the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

"We organized Chinese artists to travel along the Silk Road and to visit some 20 countries, including Central Asian countries [along the belt]. They received a warm reception when talking about history and arts," Lü said.

The artists discussed culture, history, and inheritance. When local people from the visited nations saw China's openness, tolerance and peaceful development during the communication process, they then showed interest in economic and trade cooperation, Lü added.

As a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Lü said he understands the strategic meaning behind the Silk Road economic belt, but feels that China should not be too aggressive.

Sometimes officials in other nations may think China wants their resources like natural gas and wants to exploit the large consumer market, he said, but China should work to gain the trust of these countries to seek mutual cooperation.

The western part of the Silk Road contains rich oil and natural gas resources. According to a recent report from China National Petroleum Corporation, there are over 30 billion tons of exploitable oil reserves in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea area. The volume of natural gas reserves is estimated at over 8,000 billion cubic meters.

The report said that the Silk Road could be a new energy road for energy-thirsty China.

However, the Silk Road economic belt is not a China-dominated geo-economic scheme or a regional organization but a naturally formed concept, Feng Yujun, an expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

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