I started my wonderful relation with China since an adolescent. I used to be a huge fan of table tennis and won a championship of a French national table tennis competition at 11. Back then, China was still a remote country for me, but Chinese table tennis players were already “super heroes” in my eyes.
When I was in high school, a teacher of mine introduced to me the works of Chinese poets in Tang Dynasty, including Du Fu, Li Bai and Wang Wei. The charms of the graceful poems and the beauty of Chinese culture attracted me so much that I started learning Chinese.
When I was a student, I also had a huge interest in the ancient Silk Road which started from China. So I spent a long time studying the route map of the Silk Road, pondering on those exotic names of different places. It is still fun as I recall it today.
My first trip to China was in 1996, during which I went to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It was in summer when I boarded the train leaving Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, and it was very hot. I had a free and happy conversation with the passengers. We talked, laughed and had watermelons together, and we soon became friends.
When I work in China, I would take trains for long-distance trips whenever I could. Of course, the speed and comfort of today’s high speed trains are totally different from those of the trains 20 some years ago.
Later I visited Xinjiang around a dozen times, leaving my footprints in Kunlun Mountain and Hami. I also hiked to many other places of the autonomous region, seeing both the natural and cultural beauty of it. For me, every trip to Xinjiang inspires me.
Over 20 years have passed since I arrived in China for the first time. I witnessed the remarkable progress of the country’s reform and opening up, and also the huge changes brought by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to the world.
My book Limited Views on the Chinese Renaissance was debuted in Shanghai last year. It included 40 articles, presenting my research and views accumulated over years of China studies. China’s Confucianism believes that the world is a commonwealth, which is similar to the concept of a community of a shared future for mankind. These thoughts are promoting mutual learning and exchanges among global civilizations.
Today, China is making huge contribution to multilateralism, playing an increasingly important role in the global governance system. For instance, the country has always devoted itself to the multilateral process on climate change, playing a big part in the reaching of the Paris Agreement and making important contribution to global climate governance.
However, I found the western society does not understand China very well. I hope that other countries and regions in the world can draw wisdom from China’s experiences of development.
I established Europe-China Forum in 2002 to enhance mutual trust between the two sides and strengthen bilateral cooperation. I hope that the two ancient civilizations can further enhance communication and cooperation, so as to jointly build a community of a shared future for mankind.
Since 2015, I started to study the BRI. To promote the constant communication between Europe and China has become a lifetime pursuit of me.
At the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), China stressed the importance of boosting connectivity, strengthening policy synergy, promoting green and sustainable development.
I believe what China said is very important. China’s efforts to promote ecological progress in recent years are constructive both for China and the world. Focusing on ecological progress and turning the Belt and Road into a road of green development will make the international society more active to participate in the BRI.
China’s progress made in a few decades is unprecedented in human history. When China is pursuing its own development, it is also transforming the world. Though the country is facing many challenges in development, it has always been able to solve them with its wisdom and make breakthroughs. China’s path of development is one and only in the world.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and I’m looking forward to China’s future development. I believe that the country will keep surprising me with its constant achievements.
(The author is the founder of Europe-China Forum. This article is edited by Zhang Huizhong from People’s Daily)