On September 26th, 2023, in Beijing, First Lady Mrs. Asma al-Assad engaged in a dialogue session with students from Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), accompanied by a substantial gathering of professors, students, and several foreign ambassadors stationed in China.
Expressing her sentiments, Mrs. Asma conveyed, “From Damascus, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, to Beijing, the capital of ancient civilizations, and from Syria, the birthplace of the first alphabet, to China, a land of diverse languages and dialects, I stand before you today with a heart full of gratitude and pride for your warm welcome. I take pride in my ability to address you in my mother tongue, and in turn, your remarkable proficiency in comprehending it.”
She emphasized that societies worldwide are confronting deliberate efforts to erode their national cultures, employing various methods with a singular objective: the dissolution of identity and belonging. Mrs. Asma asserted, “The most potent weapon in erasing our identities is an assault on the mother tongues of our peoples. Seizing control of language is the swiftest path to capturing consciousness, thereby influencing independent decision-making, dismantling societies, and obliterating identities.”
Mrs. Asma underscored the significance of language preservation, stating that languages thrive through revitalization, cross-cultural exchange, and alignment with contemporary sciences and terminologies. She emphasized that upholding national cultural heritage does not advocate isolationism but rather promotes a commitment to cultural roots while fostering cultural engagement with others—a fundamental principle of the Belt and Road Initiative launched by China a decade ago.
Highlighting China’s remarkable achievements in technological advancement and scientific progress, coupled with the preservation of heritage, language, and identity, she praised it as a model for development without dependency, growth without external assistance, and economic progress with unwavering national dignity.
Mrs. Asma extended her appreciation to Professor Abdul Rahman Najoon, a leading figure in promoting the Arabic language in China, and to Syrian writer and poet Salama Obaid, along with a distinguished group of Chinese professors, who collaborated on the first dictionary of Arabic and Chinese languages. She also commended the contributions of other Chinese intellectuals who enriched the “Arabic Language Academy” in Damascus, the oldest scientific academy dedicated to the Arabic language.
She concluded her address by acknowledging the enduring struggle of nations that safeguard their identity and language, resisting subjugation and dominance for centuries, up to the present day. Mrs. Asma conveyed her steadfast belief in Syria’s resilience, noting its ongoing battle to defend its existence, rebuild what has been damaged, and nurture hope for a brighter future, regardless of the present challenges.
In closing, Mrs. Asma expressed her gratitude to China for its unwavering support of Syria in international forums and its efforts to thwart conspiratorial schemes aimed at independent nations.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.