Case in the Ming Dynasty and the inclusiveness of Chinese Culture
Globalization began with the spread of western culture. The following trade and financial globalization have unified the world with Western culture as its spiritual pillar. Despite all these signs of progress, although western culture has helped maintain the Pax Americana for over a half-century and even catalyzed the disintegration of the Soviet Union, it still did not resolve the in-depth contradictions in global cultural governance. European and American cultures do have strong vitality, but their dualistic nature is not suitable for the mainstream needs of contemporary global governance. In fact, the British-French confrontation in the 18th century, the British-German struggle in the 19th century, and the U.S.-Soviet Cold War in the 20th century were all conflicts within Western civilization.
Past experience shows that as long as the hard power remains absolutely predominant, the great powers in Western civilization will seek to grow into a new dominant state. However, the new round of world order reconstruction provides demanding requirements for countries' soft power, including their cultures. During this process, the three major cultures—Islamic, Confucian, and Indian—will all become important participants in world order transfer, which indicates a new competition between non-Western civilizations represented by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China, South Korea, India, Indonesia, and Japan, and the civilizations of traditional Western society. Apparently, the result can only be dialogue and integration among different civilizations.
The Chinese nation is known for cultural inclusiveness and has also had successful experiences in constructing regional and overseas order. To be more specific, as early as in the 14th century, the early Ming Dynasty had participated in establishing the regional order of the Indian Ocean. This case shows that Chinese culture has successfully provided its own solution in constructing the order that is different from its Western counterpart. Studies have shown that during the second half of the 14th century to the beginning of the 15th century, the Ming Dynasty pursued a foreign policy characterized by “non-conquest” and established extensive diplomatic relations with countries in the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, through diplomatic documents written in Chinese and Arabic, China has implemented its ideas of peace and orderliness in diplomatic practice, and thus promoted the establishment of an international order with official acknowledgment from various countries in East Asia, Central Asia, West Asia. South Asia, East Africa, a part of Europe, and the Indian Ocean region. It should be considered as a type of international order centered on peacefill coexistence, as some Chinese scholars suggest,
China's participation in establishing the Indian Ocean order in the early Ming Dynasty differs greatly from the Mongolian empire’s previous practices and the Western overseas expansion after that. It should not simply be summarized and understood as a traditional tributary system .... This experience is still of enlightenment to us today.5
In addition, Chinese society has been formulated with multiple ethnicities and cultures since ancient times, and different schools, including Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, have coexisted harmoniously for centuries. Each school has its own belief and pursuits, and it would be impossible for any single religion to destroy another. Although there were large-scale cultural movements such as destroying Buddhism, Taoism, or Confucianism in some dynasties of ancient times; they did not end well and soon failed. However, the inclusiveness of Chinese culture does not mean that it is without any principle or strucnire. On the contrary, it could construct a mainstream culture while embracing others, and thus managing the cultural development of society. This is also in line with UNESCO's principle of Unity in Diversity, which could contribute to maintaining world political and economic order.