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Let’s present a real India and a real China to each other

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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang paid an official visit to India during May 19-22 this year. India was the first country that he visited after assuming the post of Chinese Premier. This suggests that China’s new government attaches great importance to China-India relations.

During the visit, the two sides signed a number of cooperative agreements, including documents on economic and trade cooperation. They also issued a joint statement, which charted the future development direction of our bilateral relations. Both Chinese and Indian media covered Premier Li’s visit with great attention and enthusiasm. Premier Li asked me to convey his thanks to Chinese and Indian journalists.

This China-India Media Forum is a specific measure to carry out the decisions made during Premier Li’s visit and to enhance cultural exchanges between the Chinese and the Indian people. I believe that this forum will further deepen understanding between media of the two countries, expand their areas of cooperation and push media exchanges and cooperation to a higher level.

Just like you, I’m also a media professional. I worked for long time with Xinhua News Agency and People’s Daily, the two most famous media in China, for more than twenty years. I fully understand that the nature of journalism is to pursue new development and changes and report progresses of the times. There are no two other countries like China and India, each with a population of more than 1 billion, which have achieved rapid growth in the past few decades. This is an unprecedented historic event both Chinese and India media people should cover with great enthusiasm.

The fact that China and India are developing simultaneously illustrates that the world is big enough for us to develop at the same time. It suggests that we have each found a development path that suits our respective national conditions. We should walk hand in hand to continue along the paths that suit our own national conditions.

Since China and India established diplomatic ties more than 60 years ago, the relations between the two countries have been growing soundly and comprehensively. Our mutual strategic trust has been gradually enhanced. Our bilateral ties have become more resilient to disturbances. Our two countries’ interests have become more intertwined. The strategic economic dialogue and other mechanisms have become more well-established. The areas of pragmatic cooperation continue to expand. Cultural exchanges keep growing. Friendship between the two peoples has deepened. The two countries have often worked together in international and regional affairs to safeguard common interests.

Looking to the future, China-India relations have great potential for growth. As close neighbors and partners, friendly and pragmatic cooperation between China and India is in the fundamental interests of both nations, as well as a blessing for Asia and the world.

Relations between nations lie in amity between the people, while amity between the people lies in mutual understanding. Exchanges between people constitute an important cornerstone of friendly relations between nations.

From past to present, there are many examples about the exchanges between the Chinese and the Indian people. Tagore is a household name in China and India. One of his students, Wei Fengjiang, came from China.

Eighty years ago, in 1933, the 22-year-old Wei arrived in India, becoming the first modern Chinese scholar to study Indian history and literature in India. After returning to China in 1939, Wei authored and translated many books to introduce the Indian culture and history to the Chinese people.

After Wei passed away, a statute of him was built in Zhejiang Yuexiu Foreign Languages Institute in Shaoxing City, where he once worked, to commemorate his important contribution to China-India cultural exchanges.

Since the 1920s, a large number of famous Chinese scholars, such as Liang Qichao, Cai Yuanpei, Zheng Zhenduo, Xu Beihong, Ji Xianlin, Tan Yunshan and Tan Zhong, have actively contributed to friendly exchanges between the Chinese and the Indian people.

Meanwhile many famous Indian scholars have studied China and promoted bilateral exchanges. These scholars include Swami Vivekananda, Sri AurobindoRadhakrishnanManikArttatrana Nayak, and Kamal Sheel. The seeds of friendship they sowed have now grown into exuberant tall trees.

Media is an important tool to disseminate information, transmit culture and bridge different civilizations. They serve as a bridge to enhance understanding between the people and to foster friendship.

In recent years, Chinese and Indian media have played unique and positive role in maintaining and consolidating strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries. Exchanges and cooperation between media in the two countries are progressing comprehensively. Exchanges between executives of mainstream media are more frequent and so are those between media professionals. Forums, seminars and dialogues have promoted communication between Chinese and India media, significantly contributed to the development of bilateral relations, and enriched the comprehensive bilateral cooperation.

Nonetheless, for some reasons, Chinese and Indian media still do not have sufficient understanding of each other’s country, still cannot fully reflect the current status of the friendly bilateral relations, and still cannot meet the two peoples’ demand for information about the other country.

To promote media exchanges, I would like to make the following proposals:

First, build this forum into a long-term and institutionalized platform for media exchanges. The forum could be held every year, in turn in India and China. Press officials of the two governments and executives of major media institutions will be invited. Participants will have extensive and in-depth discussions on issues of common concerns.

It is necessary for Chinese and Indian media to engage in long-term and frequent dialogues and communication, pushing us to see each other rationally and objectively and presenting a real China and a real India to domestic audience, so as to promote the healthy development of bilateral relations and deepen understanding and friendship between our two peoples.

Second, strengthen pragmatic media cooperation between our two countries. Currently, China and India have altogether about 20 reporters stationed in the other country, which is inadequate given the two countries’ population size and the importance of the two countries’ relations. Obviously, these reporters are not enough to meet the two peoples’ demand for information about each other.

I suggest that media of both countries carry out extensive cooperation in mutual visits, article exchanges and joint interviews. I hope that they could gradually station more reporters in each other’s country, or send more reporters to each other’s country to conduct interviews, meet local residents, and gather real, fresh and first-hand information.

Third, media of both countries should help maintain our bilateral relations. Chinese and Indian media have different cultural backgrounds, perspectives and reporting methods, which is understandable. All media should report truthfully, objectively and fairly. Media should report more on the two countries’ efforts to enhance communication and mutual trust, on the efforts to push forward pragmatic cooperation, on the efforts to expand cultural exchanges and deepen mutual understanding and trust, on the efforts to care about each other’s concerns and properly handle complicated issues. Media should instill more positive energy into the healthy development of bilateral relations.

In the world, there are no two other countries that are like China and India, which have made unique contributions to the mankind with their great civilizations that have lasted thousands of years. China and India are connected by common mountains and rivers, and have engaged in exchanges in various fields for more than two millenniums. As early as in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) and the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Silk Road on the land and sea connected China and India. As two pearls in Asia, the Chinese civilization and the Indian civilization are different from each other. Yet, they also share many similarities and have illuminated each other in history. Together, they have contributed to splendid Asian civilizations.

Over the past century, the destiny of the two nations has been linked ever closer. The Chinese and Indian peoples understood and supported each other in their respective pursuit of national independence and liberation, with many touching stories. Our two countries jointly advocated the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence which have become important guidance for new type of international relations.

Mahatma Gandhi once said that China and India are fellow travelers sharing weal and woe in a common journey. As fellow travelers, Chinese and India media have more reasons to engage in frequent exchanges to deepen the friendship between our two peoples and to jointly push ahead the strategic partnership between the two countries for the common interests of our two peoples. Let us work together for this great goal!

 (This is the edited version of speech delivered by Mr Cai Mingzhao, Minister of the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China, at the opening ceremony of the First China-India Media Forum)


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