On 7 February 2018, The Permanent Delegation of the People’s Republic of China to UNESCO, the UNESCO’s Arab Group and UNESCO, have jointly organized a Roundtable on “Maritime Silk Roads: Connections between China and the Middle East” at UNESCO’s Headquarters, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of UNESCO Silk Roads initiative, and the 27th anniversary of UNESCO’s Maritime Silk Roads completion in Canton in 1991.

The roundtable aimed to analysis the cultural and scientific exchanges that occurred between China and the Middle-East along the Maritime Silk Roads, and  explore how this common heritage could help respond to the challenges, crisis of idea of identity in today’s world.

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During the opening session, Ms Al Nashif, the Assistant Director General of UNESCO for Social and Human Sciences, outlined the role played by the interdependence generated by the Maritime Silk Roads to foster mutual understanding. Dr Du Yue, Vice-chairman and Secretary General of the National Commission of the People’s Republic of China emphasized on the works of protection and promotion of Silk Roads Heritage and reaffirmed the commitment of China to support UNESCO’s  initiatives on Silk Roads. He  mentioned the serial nomination of the Silk Roads Corridor as World Heritage and the Silk Roads Online Platform project as good examples of fruitful collaboration.   

The Ambassadors and Permanent delegates to UNESCO of Libya, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Sultanate of Oman further underlined the relevance of the Silk Roads to UNESCO’s mandate of promoting peace. They highlighted that the history of Silk Roads contributed  to influence the production of masterpieces of Arabic and Persian literature. The success of UNESCO’s Maritime Silk Roads as an exemplary work that has helped to promote cultural exchanges and enhance diplomatic relations among different countries, and a long standing model to address globalization of the modern world were underlined as well.

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A short excerpt of a documentary film on the China-Middle East relations along the Maritime Silk Roads directed by Mr Khal Torabully was screened during the second session of the  Round table animated by experts.

The Roundtable was followed by an Exhibition on "China and the Arab World relations along the Maritime Silk Roads 10th-14th centuries" that showcased historic facts of exchanges between China and Arab World. This exhibition was organized with supports of Municipality of Quanzhou, China and was officially opened by His Excellency Mr Yang Shen, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of the People’s Republic of China to UNESCO, and Ms Nada Al-Nashif.