I have been in receipt of the following comments from a reader of Indian origin based abroad of my articles on the People’s Republic of China (PRC). I agree with him that academic and intellectual exchanges between the PRC and other countries in East and South-East Asia have been increasing while exchanges between India and these countries, including China, have been stagnating. Despite our continuing differences with China on issues such as the border dispute and their support to Pakistan, it should be possible to promote academic and intellectual exchanges with the PRC. There are hardly any exchanges between India and the South-East and East Asian countries more due to lack of Indian interest than the other way round. Continuing suspicions of academic and intellectual exchanges with China stand in the way of Chinese scholars being able to get visas to attend seminars in India. It is easy to organize a national seminar on China, but not an international seminar involving the participation of Chinese scholars from abroad—-whether from China or from other countries. It should be a common core interest of India and China to find ways of promoting such exchanges and encouraging transparency in policy-making. One of the reasons for the misunderstandings between India and China is the lack of transparency in policy-making for which both the countries have to share the blame.
(Courtesy: South Asia Analysis Group. The writer Mr B Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com)
COMMENTS FROM A READER OF MY ARTICLES
First of all, thank you very much on your thought provoking articles on PRC. Let me provide a different perspective to PRC related issues from an academic point of view.
Due to my professional /academic activities I visit Taiwan (ROC) and SE countries frequently, and it is really astonishing to see how PRC is binding these countries through numerous educational programs. It is amazing to see educators, researchers, planners from the top universities of these other countries are visiting PRC on a regular basis, and PRC scholars are reciprocating by visiting these countries too. Looks like PRC is setting aside a dedicated amount of money to woo scholars from the neighboring countries under various regional conferences, meetings, exchange programs, etc.
Irrespective of whatever political differences there may exist between PRC and ROC, the academic exchange programs between these two countries are growing exponentially. Though the current ROC President Ma Ying Jeau is soft toward PRC,
even during the time of more apparently hostile past President Chen Shui Bien, academic exchanges were cozy between these two countries. The flow of business visitors and tourists between PRC and ROC too is eye popping. My Taiwanese colleagues
say that they regularly coordinate regional/international academic meetings in consultation with their PRC counterparts. All the major hotels in Taipei (especially the Grand Hotel, once owned by Madam Chiang-Kai Shek) have huge boards
placed near the main entrances welcoming visiting delegates/tourists from different provinces of PRC. And this is going on year-round. Overcoming the strong opposition from DPP (Chen Shui Bien’s party), ROC govt has now opened the door for PRC students to attend ROC universities. Without this, many ROC university officials say, they can’t survive financially.
Nearly similar things are happening with Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore and Indonesia. My colleagues from Thailand go to conferences and meetings held in PRC, but not to those in India. What’s wrong with us? I don’t see India’s foot print matching even 10% of that. Needless to say, this will have a long term effect in favor of PRC at the cost of India.