Wen Jiabao: It's not a clash but a coalition of civilisations that China wants

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The Independent Online

Civilisations can be different, but no civilisation is superior to others. Each civilisation embodies the common vision and common aspirations of mankind shaped in the course of development and progress. The Chinese civilisation has long advocated the great ideas that "harmony is most valuable", "seek harmony in diversity" and "do not do unto others what you would not have others do unto you". Similarly, the Islamic civilisation values peace and calls for tolerance. The Koran contains more than 100 references to peace. We should build consensus and seek harmony in a world of diversity and push forward development through exchanges. This is the approach all mankind should embrace in advancing civilisation.

Diversity of civilisations is largely reflected in ethnic and religious diversity. China is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. It is made up of 56 ethnic groups. The indigenous Taoism has long existed in harmony with Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, religions introduced from the outside.

It is the basic policy of the Chinese government to implement and improve the system of regional ethnic autonomy, ensure equality among all ethnic groups and speed up the economic and social development of minority ethnic groups and areas inhabited by these groups. It is also our policy to ensure freedom of religious belief and bring into play the positive role of religious personages and religious believers in promoting economic and social development.

In China, more than 20 million people from 10 ethnic groups believe in Islam. They are all important members of the big family of the Chinese nation, and their religious belief, cultural tradition and way of life are fully respected. There are over 35,000 mosques in cities and the countryside across China. You can find Muslim restaurants in any Chinese city. In an international metropolis like Shanghai, there is local legislation ensuring the supply of Muslim food. You will also find that in factories, schools and government offices in China, Muslim cuisine is available wherever there are Muslims. If you attend a get-together among friends, those present will all choose to have Muslim food even if only one of them is a Muslim.

Taken from a speech in Cairo by the Chinese Premier to the Arab League last week