India, China identify 10 areas of people-to-people cooperation

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New Delhi, Dec 21 (IANS) In keeping with the Wuhan spirit in the wake of the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April this year, India and China on Friday identified 10 areas for boosting people-to-people cooperation.

Addressing the inaugural session of the third edition of the India-China High-Level Media Forum here after co-chairing the first-ever meeting of the India-China High-Level Mechanism on People-to-People Exchanges with Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that Modi and Xi set the tone at the Wuhan informal summit for deepening cultural exchanges and people-to-people cooperation.

Xi hosted the Wuhan summit to improve bilateral ties after the armies of the two countries were in a face-to-face situation for 73 days at Doklam in the India-Bhutan-China international trijunction last year.

“Both our leaders believe that improving people-to-people ties will help in boosting bilateral relations,” Sushma Swaraj said.

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Stating that Friday’s two-hour-long meeting was unique and different from all the earlier meetings she had with Wang in the last four years, she said that it focussed solely on bilateral cultural exchanges and people-to-people cooperation.

“Today, we identified 10 areas of people-to-people cooperation: cultural exchanges, films and television co-production, media, sports, youth affairs, tourism, exchanges between states and cities, traditional medicine, yoga and academics,” Sushma Swaraj said.

“Both countries had very fruitful discussions and I am very satisfied,” she said, adding that she was inspired by the positive approach from the Chinese side.

Stating that joint forums across different fields are designed to build trust among the two countries, the External Affairs Minister said that the media has a significant role to play in this.

“In the last 40 years, China developed fast through reforms and opening up the economy,” she said.

“India will become a $5-trillion economy by 2025 and we will both benefit by cooperating with each other.”

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Expressing gratitude to the Chinese side for taking a number of positive steps after the Wuhan summit, Sushma Swaraj said that both Indian and Chinese armies are cooperating with each other now.

“Today, we are working together on a number of regional as well as international issues,” she said.

“We are ending the year with a great sense of satisfaction.”

On his part, Wang said that he fully agreed with Sushma Swaraj’s positive comments about the meeting.

“Today’s meeting was a full success,” he said. “Our leaders have great expectations from cultural exchanges and people-to-people ties.”

Wang said that mutual visits between the people of the two countries will be increased in the times to come as the current number is too small.

“Better people-to-people ties will be beneficial not only for China and India but also for the world,” he said

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“We will leverage our respective strengths in various sectors.”

Stating that the first High-Level Mechanism meeting has been a good beginning, Wang said that it will benefit the 2.7 billion people of the two countries.

“China has just celebrated the 40th anniversary of reforms and opening up,” he said.

“India, our most important neighbour, is also opening up and is developing fast.”

Earlier, Modi in a message ahead of the meeting, said that as ancient civilisations and neighbours, India and China have been having deep cultural ties for ages.

“Today, the growing contacts and exchanges between our people will give new momentum to these ties,” he said.

“This new mechanism is proof of the fact that cultural exchanges and people-to-people ties form an important part of our bilateral relations.”

Modi said that these ties will become a new source of energy for the partnership between the two countries for rapid development.

–IANS

ab/nir

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