New start to an­cient con­nec­tion

Chi­nese stu­dents ex­press con­cerns to In­dia’s leader, An Baijie and Sun Ye re­port.

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINESE TRAIN PROJECTS AROUND THE WORLD - Con­tact the writ­ers at an­bai­jie@chi­nadaily.com.cn and sunye@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

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