New start to ancient connection
Chinese students express concerns to India’s leader, An Baijie and Sun Ye report.
Attracted by India’s ancient civilization, Tsinghua University student An Cong has been dreaming for years of traveling to the South Asian country.
“India is fascinating with its civilization, religions and history of past dynasties,” said An, who is working on her doctorate in art theory. “We are among the four great ancient civilizations and our connection goes back a long time.”
After hearing the speech of visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 15, An is now determined to travel to India this year.
Modi announced that the Indian government will ease visa procedures for Chinese tourists, given the fact that there is huge potential for personal exchanges between the two countries.
“About 33 percent of the world’s population is either Indian or Chinese. Yet, our people know very little of each other,” Modi told the students. “So, we have decided to extend electronic tourist visas to Chinese nationals. We are celebrating the Year of India in China in 2015.”
According to the Chinese embassy in India, as of November, more than 100 million Chinese had traveled overseas, but only 1 in 700 of those trips were bound for India.
Starting his speech in Chinese, Modi said that he was glad to come to the renowned Tsinghua University, and he also asked the students what they thought of his Chinese language abilities. His language skills won sound applause from the students.
For Ma Junqi, a freshman studying information technology, the hour-long talk was her first contact with a foreign statesman.
“The prime minister seems really amicable, saying ‘hello’ to us in Chinese,” she said. “And his Mandarin is good.”
When explaining why he chose to speak at a university in China, Modi said, “It is the youth that will inherit the future of our countries and the responsibility for our relationship.”
According to him, the Gandhi and India Study Center will be established at Shanghai-based Fudan University, expressed their concerns over border issues after hearing Modi’s speech.
Zhang Zhe, who studies biology and chemistry at the university, said border issues remain one of the biggest challenges for the two countries even though they share a lot of similarities, including large populations and fast economic growth. “I want to see how the two countries can work out their differences and grow together,” he told China Daily.
Similar concerns have been voiced by Chinese netizens through Weibo, a social networking and micro-blog service based in China. On Modi’s first micro-blog post released on May 4 on weibo.com, many expressed their concerns over border difficulties.
Apart from sensitive border issues, some netizens also have made their suggestions, including improving India’s safety for visitors, facilitating visa procedures, and so on.
Pu Bailu, a Chinese postgraduate student studying Hindu literature and culture at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said educational exchanges between the two countries should be enhanced.
“When I decided to apply for admittance to an Indian university, most of my friends could not understand, since they have little knowledge about the country as well as the university,” she said. “But actually, Jawaharlal Nehru University is famous for its social sciences. Besides, the tuition fee is much cheaper than those in Western countries.”
Data provided by the Chinese embassy in India shows that there are about 2,500 Chinese students studying there, and 10,000 Indian students in China.
Educational cooperation was also a highlight in Modi’s speech in Beijing.
“The world’s first large scale educational exchange program took place between India and China during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907). Records talk of 80 Indian monks coming to China and nearly 150 Chinese monks returning after their education in India. And yes, this was in the 10th and 11th centuries,” he said.