Cultural Exchange

Geographically, China and Europe were on the margins of Afro-Eurasia. China’s reaction to globalization, diversity and exchange was less enthusiastic than that of other countries which were India and Africa. Though it actively participated in trade, China was not friendly to outsiders. There were clear distinctions between the Chinese and non-Chinese people where any non-Chinese would be seen as inferior. China could not absorb any other culture neither could it exchange cultural ideas with other cultures.

Just like China, the Muslims were very active in trade. Unlike China, the Islamic world readily accepted diversity and integration and embraced exchange of the Afro-Eurasian world. The Muslims controlled a good part of the sub-Saharan Africa and had developed sea routes to facilitate the transport of goods quickly and avoid interruption from rival kingdoms. The Islamic areas in the Middle East were the junction of Afro-Eurasia. This made them develop diverse, open and welcoming societies. Likewise, in Egyptian cities of Alexandria and Cairo were the main centers of trade of the Mediterranean front. Sharia law was applied in this Islamic world to aid trade. The Islamic world was so appreciative of other cultures that Jewish and Christian traders would see assistance from Muslim Judges on matters concerning trade. The Middle East turned into a crossroads for cultures due to religious and trade conversions; this led to a more emotional and social form of Islam known as Sufism. It was easily adaptable by many people than the traditional Islam. Sufism encouraged the spread of Islam in South Asia and Africa. Islam, therefore, adopted many cultural influences, led to a dynamic society which took lead in math, science and literature.

During the Song dynasty in China, the country was the most populous and prosperous in the world. It controlled the world economy but the Mongol conquest somewhat disrupted the nation’s economy though most part of it remained strong. There was great social stability and the society experienced more mobility between classes where advancement on merit was witnessed. However, China never embraced cultural exchange and still could not entertain non-Chinese.