Mend China-India gap in psychology, culture

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/16 22:48:42

The Sino-Indian relationship has been marked by one factor - being separated by the Himalayas, in terms of geography, culture and mind-set, despite the two sides' improving ties. While political differences and territorial disputes can be temporarily set aside, the stumbling block that lies between how people from the two countries see each other should be cleared up and the sooner the better.

The good news is, New Delhi is "trying to have some kind of Understanding India program" in major countries like China, said Indian Council of Cultural Relations President Vinay Sahasrabuddhe recently.

Sahasrabuddhe made a good point. Most Chinese have a one-sided understanding of India. When it comes to this close neighbor, the Chinese people naturally think of gorgeous songs and dances, successful Bollywood films, or the rape incidents, pollution or people hanging onto the outside of trains. Quite a few have never heard of Hinduism and many believe Buddhism is the most popular religion in India.

How do Indian people see China? Analysts say if one polled Indians, the results would highly likely show that China is their most unpopular country, then Pakistan.

All the country's international strategies stem from their geopolitics and the periphery plays a crucial role in their geopolitics. The geopolitics of Asia has been greatly influenced by historical factors, most notably Western colonialism.

Until today, most of what the Chinese read about India and what Indians learned about China came from the West. Their understanding of each other is basically shaped by the West. It is time for Asian countries to walk out of Western influence and restructure their understanding of their own geopolitics. Increasing people-to-people exchanges is hence indispensible.

The importance of Sino-Indian relations to the politics, economics and security of the two sides cannot be underestimated. Without mutual trust, it is the two's own development opportunities that are wasted.

There are not many Indians who know Chinese. Only a few Chinese people can speak Hindi. However, there is one thing in common between them - top performers in US high schools are normally Chinese or Indian students. The mutual understanding between China and India is far less than their understanding of the US.

China and India are the world's two largest developing countries. They share the same stance on a number of issues including anti-hegemonism and development. There is plenty of room for bilateral collaboration between them. Yet the premise is having a correct and realistic understanding of each other. The Understanding India program could be a good beginning.

As a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious country, diversity is one of the greatest characteristics of India. Anything a person sees in India can be true, but the opposite of what he sees may also be true. India's complexity is no less complex than China. Therefore more channels are urgently needed to learn about one another.

Despite constant friction between China and the US, there are millions of Americans and Chinese visiting each other, the two nations are far from being isolated from each other. This is the solid foundation of Sino-US ties. It is hoped that such a foundation can also be formed between China and India in the days to come.

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