Promoting China-India Relations Through People-to-People Exchanges
On June 20, 2017, more than 50 yoga enthusiasts from Jianhe County, Qiandongnan Prefecture, Guizhou province, jointly demonstrated yoga for International Yoga Day.
As the two largest developing countries in the world, China and India are faced with the common task of developing economy and improving people’s livelihood. They shoulder the common responsibility of safeguarding regional peace and stability & realizing the rise of Asia. While promoting multi-polarization of the world and democratization of international relations. There are a wide range of common interests on major international issues.
With the rapid economic development in the two countries and the remarkable increase in their international status, China-India relations have gone beyond bilateral scope and now have global significance.
In a world perspective, the more global role China-India relations plays, the more it requires mutual trust and coordination between the two countries and understanding of each other from a global perspective to eliminate misunderstandings.
Therefore, how to reverse the ever-decreasing trend of Sino-Indian relations is a great challenge to both China and India.
Big Potential for People-to-People Exchanges
At the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China held in Beijing on October 2017, the CPC established President Xi Jinping’s thought on major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, playing an important guiding role in the development of relations between China & India.
The report of the 19th National Congress said: “China has actively developed global partnerships and expanded the convergence of interests with other countries. China will promote coordination and cooperation with other major countries and work to build a framework for major country relations featuring overall stability and balanced development. China will deepen relations with its neighbors in accordance with the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness and the policy of forging friendship and partnership with its neighbors. China will, guided by the principle of upholding justice while pursuing shared interests and the principle of sincerity, real results, affinity, and good faith, work to strengthen solidarity and cooperation with other developing countries.”
The 19th NPC report clearly mentioned the need to promote the people’s organizations’ (people to people contact) in foreign relations. This shows the importance of non-governmental exchanges in developing the relations among countries.
For two neighboring big powers like China and India, it is particularly important to consolidate the mass base and social foundation of the relations between the two countries through non-governmental diplomacy (people to people contact).
On January 22, 2016, China Huaxia Happiness Foundation Co., Ltd. signed a memorandum with the government of Haryana at the Haryana Global Investment Summit 2016
From the history of development in Sino-Indian relations, especially since the beginning of the 21st century, we can see that: First, local state governments in India are different from the central government in developing relations with China. Local state governments in India pay more attention to economic relations and cultural exchanges with China and pay more attention to attracting investment from China. Many of the chief ministers of indian states went to China to hold investment roadshows.
Second, the people to people exchanges between China and India are far from enough, is at a relatively low level in terms of scale and scope. There is less interaction between the two countries at all levels, lack of mutual understanding and trust and the space and form of non-government exchanges (people to people contact) needs to be further expanded.
Developing friendly relations with India through non-governmental exchanges (people to people contact) is of positive significance to promoting the establishment of strategic mutual trust between China and India and improving bilateral political relations.
In the past decade or so, the exchanges between China and India in the non-governmental sector (people to people contact) have been growing rapidly and some landmark achievements have been made.
On June 22, 2015, at 10 a.m., the first batch of Indian official pilgrims ushered in the Sino-Indian border Nathu La Pass marked the official opening of a new pilgrim’s pilgrimage to Tibet.
President Xi Jinping opened India’s pilgrims to the Nathula Pass after their visit to India in September 2014, compared with the huge population size of China and India, there are too few personnel exchanges between China and India and non-governmental exchanges are still very backward. In addition, the political relations between China and India have been kept in a cold state for a long time, so there is still a need to vigorously promote non-government exchanges.
How to promote people-to-people exchanges between the two countries
First, the focus of people-to-people exchanges should shift from the central level to the local level. China should recognize the various attitudes of Indian local governments and non-government organizations and strengthen exchanges with them, especially those that have already established friendly relations with China.
Additionally, there needs to be innovation in methods and forms of promoting people-to-people exchanges. In recent years, potential conduits have evolved drastically in both form and content
To a great extent, many friendly organizations in India have witnessed the phenomenon of aging staff, lack of funds and shrinking of organizations, which make it difficult to conduct substantive exchanges.
On November 28, 2017, the Chinese Consulate General in Calcutta and the local Chinese School collaborated to hold the opening ceremony of the Confucius Class in Calcutta.
With the deepening of globalization, some non-governmental organizations and specialized agencies have become increasingly active and become the new forces of non-governmental diplomacy. Many trade associations, professional research institutes and cultural foundations play an increasingly important role in the Sino-Indian exchange.
However, due to the lack of docking with counterpart organizations in China, the exchanges between the two sides have been sluggish. This is an opportune time for the organizations engaging in civil diplomacy such as the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries to innovate their methods of work (CPAFFC).
At the same time, non-governmental exchanges between China and India have also become a new direction of development with the bilateral and multilateral large-scale activities as the platform. With the development of BRICS cooperation, civil exchanges among BRICS countries have become an important part of BRICS cooperation . In these fields, agencies engaged in non-governmental diplomacy must keep up with the development of the situation and make active use of these bilateral and multilateral platforms to plan ahead and cooperate with each other actively.
Finally, actively promote the exchange between China and India media. China’s non-governmental exchanges should play a more active role in promoting media exchanges between the two countries and should actively promote exchanges and cooperation between correspondents and news agencies of the two countries.
They can attract the media attention and coverage of the two countries through organizing large-scale bilateral and multilateral arts and cultural activities. They can also send true and positive messages to both peoples by promoting exchanges between films and television in the two countries and enhance mutual understanding between people of both countries.
Some time ago, the Indian movie “Dangal” aroused great repercussions in China. There is now a co-production between China and India, but what really touches the minds of the peoples of the two countries is a love story about the love between China and India, such as the love story between Ko Di Hua and Guo Qinglan. This is a blank that needs to be filled.
This weekend actor aamir khan’s movie ‘secret superstar’ released in china and is being loved & praised by everyone.
The author is an associate research fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS).