EMBASSY OF INDIA
Ambassador Bambawale's Speech at the welcome reception for 200-member Indian Youth Delegation visiting China
(05 July 2018, Beijing)
Representatives of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports,
Members of Indian Youth Delegation to China
On behalf of the Embassy of India in China, I extend a warm welcome to all of you to China and to the Indian Embassy here in Beijing.
2. India and China are two of the world’s oldest civilizations. Over millennia, we have had flourishing exchanges of people, ideas and thoughts. There were also huge exchanges of goods, commodities and services. In this context, many of China’s monks who visited India to study Buddhism such as Fa Xian and Xuan Zang are well known to all of us in India. Xuan Zang was truly impressive because he learned both Pali and Sanskrit while in India and was able to win many debates with our monks in these native languages of India. After several years in India, Xuan Zang came to China with copies of several Buddhist treatises and manuscripts which he then translated into Chinese at what was then called Chang'an or today’s Xian. Similarly, there were many Indian Buddhist monks who visited China to propagate their religion. The most famous of them was called Bodhi Dharma by us in India who become popular in China under the name of Damo. In fact, it was Damo who brought Indian martial arts to China which later became popular while he was at the temple in Shaolin. Therefore, travelers like you carry a lot of this history when you visit China.
3. In recent years, India and China have interacted with each other as modern countries exchanging goods, services, technology and investments. As you are aware, India’s mobile market is full of Chinese companies such as Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi and Huawei. They have found a warm welcome for their products in India. Conversely, Indian Bollywood films such as Dangal, Secret Superstar, and Hindi Medium have become very popular in China exhibiting the fact that well made films with a serious theme catches the attention of Chinese public. There are several Indian companies which have invested in China including the houses of Tata and Birla. As you may know, India-China bilateral trade reached a new peak of US$ 84.4 billion in calendar 2017. We are expecting it to cross the US$100 billion threshold in the next 2 years.
4. At the political level too, there are frequent exchanges and meetings between our leaders. As you know Prime Minister Modi has come to China twice this year, first for the Informal Summit at Wuhan and more recently for the SCO Summit at Qingdao. He has had excellent discussions with President Xi Jinping which have paved the way for strategic interaction and understanding between our countries. Conversely, we are expecting the Minister of Defence of China and Minister of Public Security to visit India in the second half of this year. In March 2018, Chinese Commerce Minister went to India with the objective of expanding as well as balancing our bilateral trade. Similarly, External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj and Raksha Mantri Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman visited China earlier this year for bilateral discussions as well as to attend SCO meetings. Thus, you can see that political exchanges between India and China are also flourishing.
5. The weak link in our bilateral interactions with China is the lack of people to people exchanges. In this context, the annual visits to each country by youth delegations is an extremely important initiative taken several years ago. It is the intention of the two governments that young people in India and China not only get an opportunity to see the other’s country but more importantly have the chance to interact with young people from the other side. Therefore, during your visit here to China I would urge all of you to talk, interact and mingle with as many Chinese youth as possible. Please do not stay in your own small group talking only to one another. You must reach out to the Chinese youth you meet and to some of their family members with whom you may have the opportunity to stay. Only then you will understand the Chinese mind and their thought process. It is also very important that you not merely see what is easily noticeable on the surface of Chinese cities, towns and villages. You must dig deeper to comprehend the nature of Chinese society and its civilization. Only, when you do this, will the current visit give you a perspective of China which will stand you in a good stead in your lives.
6. The Governments of India and China are very well aware that we need to boost people to people exchanges between our countries. Therefore, we are focusing on ways to enhance tourism between India and China so that greater numbers of our people travel to the other country. For this purpose, the two governments have recently established a High Level Forum for people-to-people exchanges which is headed by the Foreign Ministers of India and China. If any of you have suggestions on how we can expand people-to-people ties between us, do not hesitate to let us know either by writing to us here in the Embassy or to the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.7. I wish all of you a very successful visit to China and I hope that of all you individually will be richer with this experience.