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Fine traditional Chinese culture at core of Chinese civilization

Author  :  LI GUOQIANG     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2022-07-26

General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping stated that China’s fine traditional culture represents the wisdom and essence of Chinese civilization, is the root and soul of the Chinese nation, and serves as the foundation for China to gain a firm footing amidst global cultural interaction. This scientifically reveals the essence, status, and significance of fine traditional Chinese culture, fully demonstrating that fine traditional Chinese culture is the core of Chinese civilization. Its meaning can be understood from three aspects.

Crystallization of thoughts

Around 8,000 years ago, the origins of civilization began in many places around China. With the development of productive forces, the acceleration of social differentiation, and the creation of primitive worship, early states emerged in some parts of China from 5,100 to 4,300 years ago, as China entered civilized society. Our ancestors pushed early Chinese society to take the step from an uncultured state to a civilized one and laid the core and foundation of China’s fine traditional culture, including “unity of heaven and man” “unity in diversity” “great virtue carrying all things” and “the whole world as one family.”

In the over 5,000 years of Chinese civilization’s history, the fine traditional culture has been constantly enriched, expanded, and improved. It has continued to develop under the merging of agricultural, nomadic, and maritime civilizations, as well as through interactions with foreign civilizations. The spiritual characteristics of the Chinese nation, which features benevolence, emphasis on people’s lives, respect for justice and integrity, righteousness, and universal harmony, have created the spiritual lifeline of the Chinese people, “Just as heaven keeps moving forward vigorously, a man of virtue should strive continuously to strengthen himself.”

Perpetual vitality

The fine traditional Chinese culture is rich in ideas, moral norms, and humanistic spirit, and has encompassed the world outlook of “unity of heaven and man,” the morality of “the benevolent man loving others,” the yin and yang interactions, a culture of tolerance and inclusion, and the value of harmony, all of which constitute the solid, enduring and everlasting foundation of Chinese civilization.

Following the “people-oriented thought,” the fine traditional Chinese culture gradually matures over the course of innovation and development, establishing an ideological system with Confucianism as the core. Successive generations of thinkers and politicians have advocated that the people should be regarded as the foundation for the perpetuation of dynasty and the stability of the state, and that peace and prosperity should be pursued.

The fine traditional Chinese culture always upholds the concept of “great unity.” The development of prehistoric civilization from pluralism to unity has laid the ideological foundation for later generations to “uphold unity and seek great harmony.”

The fine traditional Chinese culture has always demonstrated the inherent qualities of openness, tolerance, and mutual learning and appreciation. From the very beginning of Chinese civilization, it has been full of openness and inclusiveness, and the civilization form and level of each region predominantly depended on exchange and interactions with different civilizations, as well as mutual acceptance and tolerance among regional civilizations.

Distinctive mark

The fine traditional Chinese culture has a long and profound history, providing a wellspring for the development and growth of Chinese civilization, rich nourishment for the great practice of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and fertile cultural ground for the development of Marxism to adapt to China’s conditions and to respond to epochal challenges. From “people as the foundation of a country” to “putting people first place,” from “people as the most important element in a nation and the sovereign as the lightest,” to “the whole-process people’s democracy,” from “the vision of a xiaokang society” to “a moderately prosperous society in all respects,” from “coexistence of all in harmony” to “construction of the Belt and Road initiative” and “building a community with a shared future for mankind,” Chinese culture has not only enhanced the historical consciousness and cultural confidence of the Party and society, but also contributed the best of its value and played a significant role in connecting the past and the present, and looking to the future. Moreover, it has contributed Chinese wisdom, Chinese ideas, and Chinese solutions to the world, fully demonstrating the contemporary value and global significance of fine traditional Chinese culture, fully highlighting the influence, cohesion, and appeal of Chinese civilization.

Chinese civilization has a long history, originating from the accumulation of its fine traditional culture. The Chinese civilization is broad and profound, originating from the flourishing branches of its fine traditional Chinese culture.


Li Guoqiang is a research fellow, and deputy director of the Chinese Academy of History under CASS.

Editor: Yu Hui

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