Sister-state relations between Tamil Nadu and Fujian

The countries also decided to establish an academy to study links between Mamallapuram and Fujian province in China. PTI Photo

India and China on Saturday agreed to establish sister-state relations between Tamil Nadu and Fujian province to explore the ancient cultural and trade ties enjoyed by the two states that date back to at least 800 years. 

The countries also decided to establish an academy to study links between Mamallapuram and Fujian province in China. The trading links between the Southern part of India particularly between Tamil Nadu under the Pallava and Chola dynasties and the Eastern coast of China particularly Fujian province also came up for discussion between Modi and Xi.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, who briefed the media on talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, said they exchanged views on the age-old commercial linkages and people-to-people contacts between India and China in the past two millennia, including significant maritime contacts.

“In this regard the two leaders agreed on establishment of sister-state relations between Tamil Nadu and Fujian Province, exploring the possibility of establishing an academy to study links between Mahabalipuram and Fujian province on the lines of the experience between Ajanta and Dunhuang and conducting research on maritime links between China and India in view of our extensive contacts over the centuries,” Gokhale said.

Tamil inscriptions and fragments of architecture reflecting a possible temple build by Tamil traders in the 12th century have been discovered in Quanzhou in Fujian province recently.  The sister-state relations will help the two states explore the links that they have enjoyed for centuries together.

Mamallapuram, an integral part of China’s Silk Route, has enjoyed trade and cultural relations with ancient China dating back to at least 2,000 years. At one point, the Pallavas, who ruled Mamallapuram from Kanchipuram, and the then Chinese rulers had inked a defence pact when the latter perceived a threat from the then powerful kingdom of Tibet, historians have noted.

The Pallavas sent ambassadors to China not just to improve their trade ties but to spread the ideals of Gautama Buddha and Buddhism. Pallava king Bodhi Dharma, who is credited with spreading Buddhism, is much revered in China for his contributions in introducing Zen Buddhism to the country.

Gokhale also said the two leaders deemed it important to enhance dialogue in order to foster cultural understanding between the two peoples. “Both leaders also agreed that, as major civilizations in history, they can work together to enhance greater dialogue and understanding between cultures and civilizations in other parts of the world,” he said.

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