C3S Event Report No: 016/2019
The Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S) received seven Chinese delegates for an interaction on 11th July, 2019. The delegation included Ms. Zhu Xiaohong (Counsellor), Mr. Li Ya (Political Counsellor), Mr. Sun Can (Administrative Counsellor), Ms. Zhu Xiaojing (Assistant Military Attache), Mr. Hou Fangchao (Cmde. of Administration Section), Mr. Wang Lei (Third Secretary) and Mr. Ouyang Baiqin (attache).
Cmde. R. S. Vasan IN (Retd.), Director, C3S commenced the interaction by welcoming the delegation. For most of the delegates, it was their first time visiting Chennai.
The ideas behind the inception and functioning of C3S as a think tank were briefly described. While most think tanks are located in Delhi, C3S was established eleven years ago in Chennai to allow for a southern view on politics, military and strategy. The Director also talked about the respect held by him for Former Chinese Ambassador to India, Mr. Luo Zhaohui, who visited C3S in 2017 and engaged in fruitful discussions on the need for enhanced levels of interaction at all levels.
Ms. Zhu stressed upon the importance of the China – India Wuhan Summit, which has broken barriers in the way the two leaders interact on issues of mutual concern. There was mention of the Second Round of Informal Talks between Modi and Xi set to take place later this year. This will also mark the completion of seventy years since diplomatic relations between the two nations came into existence. There are high expectations on both sides on takeaways from this dialogue.
Ms. Zhu also mentioned that her delegation’s visit to Chennai included a meeting with 20 Chinese companies operating in the city. The company Greatoo was particularly mentioned for having captured fifty percent of sales of the tyre market in the world.
Next, the language barrier between Indians and the Chinese was discussed. Good translations are needed to act as the means through which ideas can be exchanged. On this aspect, Ms. Zhu underlined that Chinese newspaper dailies in English, such as Global Times and China Daily are reliable for getting a Chinese perspective on issues.
In order to ensure better Sino – Indian relations, it was agreed that the differences need to be identified first and then finding amicable ways of resolving these differences.
Cmde. Vasan highlighted the importance of ensuring freer interaction between students of both the countries by encouraging them to study in each others’ universities. There was not enough people to people contact and this is an important area for consideration by both sides. Ms. Zhu also mentioned that Prime Minister Modi had stated to President Xi, at Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, that he intends to sort out all the issues including border issue between the two countries to the best of his ability.
Mr. Li then mentioned the speech of Former Chinese Ambassador to India, Mr. Luo, where there was talk of the mobilization of Chinese companies in Chennai and lack of progress on the Delhi – via Agra – to Chennai express, possibly due to lack of political will. Mr. Li expressed China’s willingness to provide loans for the same and cited an example of German companies approaching China for low cost bullet trains. The cheaper prices by China and also the expertise in running bullet trains were cited as a major advantage.
The good relations between the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in India, and the Chennai Centre for China Studies were acknowledged. Both sides expressed their readiness to further engagement. An in-depth interaction was initiated by the Director of C3S on historical links between India and China. Bodhi Dharma was extensively talked about and Ambassador Luo’s fascination with this historical figure was mentioned. There was also an interesting discussion on Admiral Zheng He who had travelled the world over in the 14th century and had visited many ports in Asia and Africa. The Indian port of Kaveripattinam during the time of the Cholas was mentioned. This port was damaged in a tsunami and no longer exists. Both the Chinese delegation and C3S exchanged views on the possible reasons behind Admiral Zheng He’s downfall during the Ming dynasty.
The C3S interns then gave a briefing on the respective topics they were researching on. The Chinese officials expressed willingness to assist the Interns in their research.
Mementos were exchanged and Cmde. Vasan presented the vote of thanks.
(Compiled by Ms. Keerthana M., Intern, C3S.)