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LAMBETH PALACE: China emerging as 'senior partner,' Archbishop of Canterbury says

10/11/2006

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has spoken of China's potential in working to solve the world's problems  

 
[Episcopal News Service]  The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has spoken of China's potential in working to solve the world's problems. Speaking at a reception for a Chevening scholars reunion in Nanjing October 10, Williams emphasized that China has its place in a future that will require nations to work together more than ever.

The reception formed part of Williams' two-week visit to China intended to provide a deeper understanding of the Christian communities in China and the varied context in which it is developing.

"[T]here are more and more problems in our world which no one nation can confront alone," Williams said. "So much of our history - Europe's – has been a history where we've imagined that because of national sovereignty independence of national economies, we can sort out our own business. And of course the big challenges of our day; challenges such as the environment, the challenges of health and health care and the way in which modern disease spreads, the challenges posed by global communications systems – all of these tell us that there are more and more things that we cannot resolve alone."

On his visit, Williams had expected to be learning about the China of today but, he said, it is the potential for the future that is most apparent.

"China is emerging as a senior partner in the fellowship of nations; a country whose economy is changing so fast and whose profile in the world has become so recognisable and distinctive that we can't imagine a global future without the Chinese presence," he said. "It's a presence which can do great good; it's a presence which has the capacity to push forward agendas, for instance about development and particularly about sustainable development."

Williams said it is important for the Chinese voice to be heard and hoped that the experience of the Chevening scholars would demonstrate that the process worked both ways.

"Yours is a society which will have messages to give to the rest of the world but I hope too that it's a society willing to receive and to hear what the rest of the world has to say and that process begins in experiences like yours," he said. "It begins in experiences of sharing a cultural distinctiveness in our different settings; it begins in developing that global awareness without which no civilisation is going to last."

The full text of Williams’ remarks follows:


It's a very great delight to be with you this evening and it's another episode in what is beginning to be a trend in our visit to China so far. We came to find out something about the China of today and after our two days in Shanghai, and in the context of this evening, I feel we're finding out a great deal about the China of tomorrow – and perhaps even the day after tomorrow – a great deal of the possibilities that are opening up and of course a great deal about the people who are going to make those possibilities real.

We're here partly of course because we're aware of that need and challenge to be alongside China in its future. Ever since I knew I was coming to China on a visit I've kept on bumping into people in London and elsewhere who say 'Oh China; I've been to China twelve times in the last year,' and I've become aware of how very many people in public life in my own country there are for whom China is very definitely part of the their map, part of their mental world, and having spent these last few days since Sunday here - that is in Shanghai, now in Nanjing, I'm beginning to see what they see in the place, but also beginning to see something of the future that they envisage.

China is emerging as a senior partner in the fellowship of nations; a country whose economy is changing so fast and whose profile in the world has become so recognisable and distinctive that we can't imagine a global future without the Chinese presence. It's a presence which can do great good; it's a presence which has the capacity to push forward agendas, for instance about development and particularly about sustainable development. Yours is a society which will have messages to give to the rest of the world but I hope too that it's a society willing to receive and to hear what the rest of the world has to say and that process begins in experiences like yours. It begins in experiences of sharing a cultural distinctiveness in our different settings; it begins in developing that global awareness without which no civilisation is going to last.

Something I've found myself saying several times in the last couple of years in Britain is that there are more and more problems in our world which no one nation can confront alone. So much of our history – Europe's – has been a history where we've imagined that because of national sovereignty independence of national economies, we can sort out our own business. And of course the big challenges of our day; challenges such as the environment, the challenges of health and health care and the way in which modern disease spreads, the challenges posed by global communications systems – all of these tell us that there are more and more things that we cannot resolve alone.

So I hope that this wonderful programme is part of our learning how to confront these challenges together, how to learn from each other's distinctive experiences and background so as to be able better to cooperate for a safer, more peaceful more prosperous world.

During this trip I'm hoping to make contact with a wide variety of people, not only in the churches here but also in other communities and today I've spent experiencing two very different worlds just in Shanghai, speaking to students in Shanghai, volunteering with a non-profit making organisations – 'Roots and Shoots' – which attempts to promote environmental awareness amongst school children and I think those who were with me will agree that it was a morning of huge inspiration seeing just what young Chinese students can bring to this immense task. Later on I was able to meet some of the business community in Shanghai and learn a little of their vision for the development of civil society for responsibility and stable development.

So I come to this evening's event feeling already quite inspired and cheered by what I've learned about what I've sensed about the possibilities for the future of China, about the possibilities and already this evening that inspiration is being reinforced. So let me say simply thank you very much for the opportunity for sharing this time with you; thank you for what you have done and, more importantly, thank you for what you will do in the causes about which I've already spoken, what you will do for international understanding, what you will do for development what you will do for peace. Thank you for that in advance.

I'd also like to take the opportunity for thanking the Consul-General for the enormous help we've had and the encouragement and the support that she has given.  

Thank you.

© Rowan Williams 2006