India, China launch people-to-people exchange mechanism

Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi release a book during the India-China Cultural Evening, at Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra in New Delhi. PTI Photo

Even as India and China on Saturday launched a new framework for cultural and people-to-people exchanges, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj underlined that peace along the disputed boundary between the two neighbouring nations was a must to keep the bilateral ties on track.

Swaraj and her counterpart, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, co-chaired the first meeting of India-China “High Level Mechanism on Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges”.

It was the last in the series of engagements India and China had in 2018 to mend the bilateral ties, which had hit a new low last year over the 72-day-long face-off between the Indian Army and Chinese People's Liberation Army at Doklam Plateau in western Bhutan.

External Affairs Minister referred to the efforts being made to strengthen the military-to-military relations between India and China and to implement the Confidence Building Measures between the soldiers guarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the de-facto border between the two nations in the absence of a settled boundary.

“These will help maintain peace and tranquility in our border areas, which is an important pre-requisite for smooth development of bilateral relations,” she said, while addressing mediapersons along with Chinese foreign minister after the meeting in New Delhi.

“The healthy and stable development of China-India ties not only conforms to the interests of the two nations and the two peoples, but also helps promote world peace and development,” said Wang.

The “High Level Mechanism on Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges” was conceived when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had an “informal summit” at Wuhan in Central China on April 27 and 28.

Swaraj referred to the “Wuhan Spirit” on Friday as she and Wang told journalists that they had agreed to focus on “10 pillars” to step up people-to-people exchanges between the two nations — cultural exchanges and cooperation in film and television, tourism, education, museum management, sports, yoga and traditional medicines as well as engagement among youths of the two nations and exchanges among people from the cities and the states.

The external affairs minister and the Chinese foreign minister also inaugurated the third India-China high-level media-forum in New Delhi on Friday.

The Modi-Xi “informal summit” in April did bring back the ties on track and it was followed by a series of engagement between the two nations over the past few months. Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited China. Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan visited New Delhi and held meetings with his counterpart Suresh Prabhu. Sitharaman and Home Minister Rajnath Singh hosted Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe and Chinese Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi in New Delhi.

Wang, who is also Special Representative of China for boundary negotiation with India, had a meeting with his counterpart Prime Minister's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. The prime minister and Chinese President, too, had three more meetings on the sideline of the international conclaves.

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India, China launch people-to-people exchange mechanism

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