Xi’s Article on Traditional Chinese Culture and Heritage


An article by Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on “preserving and transmitting cultural heritage and carrying forward traditional Chinese culture” was published on April 16, 2024. It is also expected to be published in the eighth issue of Qiushi Journal, the journal of the CPC Central Committee, in 2024.[1]

Xi’s idea of culture was first formally put forward at a two-day national meeting on public communication and cultural studies held in Beijing on November 9, 2023. Since then, historic achievements have been made in the fields of public communication and culture, which have been attributed to the leadership of President Xi, who is also the CCP Central General Secretary.[2] Xi’s new ideas and judgments on cultural development in the new period enriched Marxist cultural theories.

Xi’s cultural doctrine emphasized the goal of building stronger cultural confidence, pursuing an approach of openness and inclusiveness, adhering to fundamental principles, and advancing the Chinese nation by building a strong ideology. Xi pointed out that communication and cultural work with the international community is of utmost importance, and that the CPC Central Committee has made systematic planning and arrangements in this field from an overall and strategic perspective, and has made historic achievements. Xi stated that he would focus on new cultural missions such as advancing cultural prosperity, building leading cultural hegemony, and promoting modern Chinese civilization, and presented an important outline of his work in this regard.

The concept of “a community of people with a common future”, a concept that Xi has often put forward in the cultural context, represents an opposition to the dominant American culture and foreign policy. The concept emphasizes sovereign equality. Furthermore, common destiny and prosperity are legitimized through the concept of democratization of international relations. These concepts imply that China should not place itself above other states and position itself as the defender of a self-defined world order.

Second, China sees itself as a defender of the existing and just international order and opposes the revisionist changes imposed by the United States. As stated in the joint declaration[3] issued by China and Russia in 2019, these countries support the United Nations (UN)-centered international system and the order based on international law, and adhere to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

Thirdly, the concept sees China as an equal player among developing countries, aiming to treat other states equally and position itself as an effective leader in the international system. Although China has long adopted the principle of non-interference in internal affairs, cultural diplomacy has been quite dominant with its growing power. As Xi put it, “China is now willing to take the lead in reforming the global governance system.”

But China’s leadership has to be different from the cultures of the great powers of the past. As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has stated, the core strategy is based on cooperation rather than building various kinds of cooperation and alliances, dialogue rather than conflict. China emphasizes the value of balancing friendship and interests, advocating justice in international relations, and emphasizing friendship in inter-state relations.[4]

Fourth, Wang said that China will refrain from using its growing power selfishly, as great powers in dominant cultures have done throughout history. Indeed, China’s historic people-centered understanding of Pax Sinica emphasizes peace, value-based political philosophy and harmony. These traditional and cultural values also inform Chinese diplomacy.

In line with Xi’s article published on April 16, 2024, it is possible to say that the concepts of ‘culture and civilization’ in China’s 2023 mission will be influential in Chinese foreign policy in 2024. Xi’s proposal of the Global Civilization Initiative (全球文明倡议), in addition to his two previous initiatives on development and security, is in line with China’s vision of the future global governance model. As Xi noted:[5]

“Instead of approaching China from the perspective of its more than 5,000 years of civilization, the West tries to see China as a modern nation-state through the lens of Western modernization theory. But following a non-Western path is not the same as being hostile to the West. On the contrary, it is in line with a country’s unique cultural background to deal with its own problems.”

In conclusion, Xi Jinping’s cultural thinking makes an important contribution to China’s current cultural development and national identity. It has the potential to increase China’s cultural power and influence in the context of international relations. The openness, inclusiveness and the building of cultural trust that Xi emphasizes will contribute to China gaining more prestige in the international arena and building stronger relations with other countries.


[1] “Xi’s article on cultural heritage, fine traditional Chinese culture to be published”, The State Council The People’s Republic of China, https://english.www.gov.cn/news/202404/15/content_WS661ce7a6c6d0868f4e8e6114.html, (Access Date: 15.04.2024).

[2] “Xi Jinping Thought on Culture put forward at national meeting, The National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, http://en.cppcc.gov.cn/2023-10/09/c_927352.htm, (Access Date: 15.04.2024).

[3] Andrew J. Nathan & Boshu Zhang. (2021). “A Shared Future for Mankind’: Rhetoric and Reality in Chinese Foreign Policy under Xi Jinping, Journal of Contemporary China, DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2021.1926091

[4] Same citation.

[5] “Why China Adopts Culture as Political Doctrine”, Sinical China, https://www.sinicalchina.com/p/why-china-adopts-culture-as-political, (Access Date: 15.04.2024).

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