World / Asia-Pacific

Indian president encourages people-to-people links

By Zhang Yi ( Updated: 2016-05-26 20:37

Visiting Indian President Pranab Mukherjee called for closer people-to-people links between India and China during a speech at Peking University in Beijing on Thursday.

"In spite of having more than a third of the world's population, the contacts between the people's representatives on both sides are still very limited. More regular contacts between our people's representatives at official and nonofficial levels is the need of the hour," he said as he stressed the importance of nurturing constituencies on both sides.

He noted that both India and China were 'young' societies.

"Our youth share common aspirations and perceptions," he said. "Their annual exchanges have been fruitful, but both sides need to synergize their potential by including more educational opportunities, youth festivals, sports exchanges, youth-oriented tourism and social media linkages."

And he encouraged both countries to expand the reach of initiatives, though such things as the regular screening and televising of each other's films and programs.

He also highlighted the importance of tourism in bilateral relations, saying the immense potential of India as a tourism destination should be better projected.

Mukherjee said he welcomes Chinese companies wanting to participate in India's businesses and invited Chinese companies to participate in the 'Make in India' initiative and join the 'Start Up India' initiative.

During his speech, he also stressed that political understanding between the two nations is vital for a Closer Developmental Partnership and said the two countries should minimize differences and maximize convergences.

"In India, we have a bipartisan commitment to strengthening our partnership with China. The frequent contacts between our respective leaders bear testimony to this. We have broadened the common ground and learned to manage our differences. There are challenges — including the Boundary Question — that still need to be addressed comprehensively. While it is natural for neighbors to have different views on certain issues from time to time, I consider it a test of our political acumen when we are called upon to draw upon our civilizational wisdom and resolve these differences, to the mutual satisfaction of both sides."

Mukherjee started his visit to China, which is at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, on May 24 and will wrap it up on May 27.

He visited China in 2006, 2008 and 2011, as defense minister, foreign minister and finance minister respectively.

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