Collaboration Is a Source of Progress

At the beginning of the 21st century, China and Europe strengthened by their history and future possibilities, which can unlock their dynamical potential and common interest in alliance to change the face of earth.

Editor’s Note: The China-Italy exchange can be dated back to the ancient Silk Road. Today, what does the Belt and Road Initiative mean to China and Italy as well as other countries between them? David Gosset, the founder of Europe-China Forum, discussed with Louis Godart, Italian archeologist and cultural advisor to three Italian Presidents.

A Time of Collaboration, hosted by Mr. Gosset, is a high-level dialogue with international veteran diplomats, business elites and outstanding scholars. The serial interviews are presented by China Focus in association with DG2CI Limited.

David Gosset: You and I we have the same passion for the Silk Road or the Silk Roads. And I remember an exhibition that we did, we created. (In the Quirinale.) Exactly, in the Italian Presidential Palace. And you are an expert on these Silk Roads. And I wanted to ask you why we could say that the notion of Silk Road symbolizes the idea of exchanges.

Louis Godart: It is quite clear that we are of the beginning of a fantastic progressing of the global balance, in which Eurasia will play a leading role. China predicts that within 10 years of the creation of this project, commercial ties between the countries positioned along the new Silk Road should more than double in order to reach $2.5 trillion. And let me see, since Africa will also be involved, it is clear that Africa will benefit of these exchanges. It is really extremely important for peace in the world and for the promotion of Africa itself.

David Gosset: You mentioned the project of Xi Jinping, the Belt and Road Initiative that he put forward in 2013. And we can think about this very important strategy as a reinterpretation of the ancient Silk Roads. And of course, as you were saying, this is about Eurasian continuities: the relationship between Europe and China, Europe and Asia, but this is also an Afro-Eurasian axis. It is very important, in the world in which we live, not to forget the African continent. Africa is a part of this vision for new Silk Roads. Also, professor, as you know very well, China has another very important initiative, or I would say idea or vision, the vision of a community of shared future for mankind. This is also something that I believe we do not discuss enough outside of China, but this is a very important vision. How do you see the Chinese renaissance contributing to this community of shared future for mankind, beyond the fact that China is putting forward the concept, but in a concrete way?

Louis Godart: The China of today is a power able of influencing the world economy. Its history spans thousands of years, and along with its international prestige, its great culture and its dynamism, China is a country, which out of many in the world, is an example to me, imitated in many ways. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, China and Europe strengthened by their history and future possibilities, which can unlock their dynamical potential and common interest in alliance to change the face of the earth. When I was in China 15 years ago, preparing the state visit of President Ciampi, I had many discussions with Chinese colleagues who said to me, “It is easy to find common culture and interest between China and Italy, because we and you are the producers of the two most important empires which existed on the world.”

Western countries, Professor Gosset, have a lot to learn from the Chinese culture, and China has a lot to learn from the European culture. Confucius and Socrates are two monuments of humanity. Let me say, take only a few examples to demonstrate how China was able to enrich Europe. Let me mention the compass, paper, mathematics, cosmography, pharmacology. Let me mention, for instance, in 2015, the Nobel Prize for Medicine to the Chinese researcher, Youyou Tu, for her work on malaria. That means that across the extremely permeable boundary, south of the Ural Mountains, China, the Far East and the Far West, per millennium and millennium, had the possibility to collaborate. It is extremely important to say that Europe has been strengthened together with Asia, and thanks to Asia, and the same for Asia.

David Gosset: Thank you very much, professor. And I would like also because you spoke about how China, the Chinese civilization, contributed for millennia to enrich mankind. Now, I would like to ask you an extremely difficult question. Having the long term in mind, I would like to ask you whether or not you believe in progress, again, but when you have the long term in mind. And if so, how is the role of collaboration for humanity to progress? I know it is a very complicated question.

Louis Godart: Professor Gosset, I do believe indeed in progress. All story of the mankind is the proof of the progresses realized from the time of the discovery of fire in the cave of Zhoukoudian between 1.5 million and 500,000 years ago. But as an historian, I like always to insist on one point, always and everywhere: progresses were possible, thanks to the collaboration between different countries and nations. And this collaboration is only possible between us, between all the women and all the men of the world, blows a wind of peace. I think that Europe and China must collaborate in a spirit of peace to demonstrate to all the other nations that peace is the only instrument to promote progresses.

David Gosset: When they are properly understood, cultures do not clash; they cross-fertilize. What does presuppose progress is the idea of collaboration. It has been true in the past. It is very true today. And you have urged us to collaborate to face the many challenges that we are facing all together. And it will be true for the future.

Louis Godart: Collaboration in a spirit of peace.

David Gosset: Exactly.

Louis Godart: That’s the important thing.