Cultural exchanges should be part of 'Belt and Road'

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Nobel laureate Mo Yan []

Nobel laureate Mo Yan []

Traditional culture in Asia is a precious treasure that should be well preserved and developed through enhanced exchanges between countries, said Nobel laureate Mo Yan.

Mo Yan, China's Nobel Prize winner for literature, shared stories with participants at the 3rd Asia Cultural Forum in Quanzhou, east China's Fujian province.

Several days ago, ambassadors of more than 30 African countries visited a very small company in Guangzhou. The ambassador from Comoros said he looked forward to the visit because the company produces Artemisinin, a drug that could significantly reduce the mortality rates for patients suffering from malaria.

"In 2014, Comoros achieved zero fatality of malaria and the number of patients was down by 98 percent, thanks to the use of Artemisinin," Mo said. The drug also enabled Chinese herbal expert Tu Youyou to win the Nobel Prize of science.

According to Mo, Tu was inspired by one of China' s classical medicine books from more than 1,500 years ago.

"Many Asia countries have cultural heritage like this book," Mo said. "Through innovation and exchange, they could benefit people in modern times."

He also told the story of his friends from South Korea.

Once, while drinking, his Korean friend suddenly handed his own cup to Mo, and Mo did likewise, exchanging cups.

"In China there is an idiom: Tui Bei Huan Zhan, which literally means pushing the cup (on the table) and exchanging the glass," he said. By doing this, friends show intimacy.

"This is rarely seen in China now, while in South Korea the culture is preserved," he said. "This detail is a result of cultural exchange in the past."

Quanzhou is an important seaport on the Maritime Silk Road, through which ancient China conducted trade with other Asian countries.

Mo hoped the promotion of the "Belt and Road Initiative" would help boost cultural exchanges.

"Whether through political or economic dialogues, our final goal should be the prosperity of culture. The success of a country is not how big the GDP figure is, but how rich people' s spiritual life is," he said.

Florence Hui, deputy secretary of home affairs in Hong Kong, shared some experience from the special autonomous region on the preservation of culture.

"In Hong Kong, we have a tradition of fire dragon dancing, which was believed to dispel the evil," she said.

"Hong Kong is a modern city, so we used electronic and social media to promote the activity," she said.

By fusing modern technology with traditions, people can better spread their culture internationally, Zhang Su Hui, president of CS Culture Foundation, said.

"We rejuvenated the traditional opera with modern technology and now bring it to foreign countries," she said. "When the old culture is combined with modern elements, it injects vitality."

The Asia Cultural Forum, from Monday to Tuesday, is one of the events during the 14th Asia Arts Festival and the second Maritime Silk Road International Arts Festival in Quanzhou.

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