External Affairs Minister’s Remarks at the 4th India-China Media Forum

August 12, 2019

Your Excellency, Mr. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China,

Distinguished members of Indian and Chinese delegations for the 2nd meeting of the India-China High Level Mechanism on Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges,

Distinguished members of the Indian and Chinese media attending the India-China High Level Media Forum,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am glad to address the 4th meeting of the India-China Media Forum which has brought together important stakeholders and opinion makers from our two countries. At the outset, let me express my appreciation to the State Council Information Office for the excellent arrangements made for this meeting.

I had a cordial meeting with Vice President Wang Qishan this morning. We discussed the evolving global situation and the larger rebalancing that reflects the rise of India and China as two large developing countries. Thereafter I had detailed and productive discussions with Foreign Minister Wang Yi. We discussed the full gamut of issues relating to views on the international situation, regional aspects and our very important bilateral relations.

Our discussions today were especially significant as we prepare for President Xi Jinping’s visit to India for the 2nd Informal Summit later this year and celebrating the 70th Anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations next year.

The Informal Summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping in Wuhan in April 2018 was a historic meeting that has provided positive direction to our relations. There is mutual agreement that as two of the largest and fastest growing developing countries, representing almost one third of the global population, stable and balanced development of our relations will not only be beneficial for our two peoples, but also a factor of stability in this uncertain global environment. Our two countries have similar goals in terms of providing better opportunities for our peoples.

Since the Wuhan Informal Summit, there has been progress in overall relationship. The two countries agree that maintenance of peace and tranquility in border areas is essential for smooth development of our relations. For this, the two armed forces have enhanced communication and are implementing various confidence building measures. Our economic relationship too has seen some progress. The bilateral trade has increased but so too has our deficit, which is a matter of some concern. We appreciate the steps taken in the last few months by the Chinese side to enhance imports from India. These efforts could expand to include measures to enable greater access for our pharmaceutical and IT products and services in the domestic Chinese market.

The future of the India-China relationship will obviously depend on mutual sensitivity to each other’s core concerns. It is natural, both as neighbours and large developing economies that there would be issues in our ties. Properly managing differences is therefore vital. As our leaders agreed in Astana, differences should not become disputes. That is how India-China relations can remain a factor of stability in an uncertain world. The positive direction of ties after the Wuhan Summit has opened up a world of new convergences. Exploiting this and taking our ties to a new level will require strong public support in both societies. The media can make a major contribution to that goal.

Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Foreign Minister Wang Yi and I have just now co-chaired the 2nd meeting of the High Level Mechanism on Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges.

The High Level Mechanism was an outcome of the consensus reached between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping during their Informal Summit in Wuhan. It reflects our shared agreement that enhancing and strengthening cultural and people-to-people exchanges would contribute to overall development of our bilateral relations.

In the inaugural meeting of High Level Mechanism in New Delhi last year, we had jointly identified ten areas to strengthen our cultural exchange and people-to-people contacts. The fact that we were able to organize the 2nd meeting of the High Level Mechanism within 8 months of the first one shows the importance that both sides attach to promoting cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

In our discussions today, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and I reviewed the progress made since the last meeting. We also discussed some new proposals and ideas to further promote such exchanges. As a result, we have also agreed to organise 100 activities to further strengthen our people-to-people ties. We will also be jointly inaugurating a Film Week later this evening marking a commencement of these activities. In the coming months, we would be organising several other events in areas like museum management, education, think tank forum and cooperation in the areas of films and broadcasting, reflecting the wide range of our cultural and people to people exchanges. Some suggstions were made by the Chinese side to expand Kailash Mansarovar Yatra and we are deeply appreciative of these initiatives.

The success of this Mechanism can also be gauged from the fact that we have just now concluded 4 MoUs/Agreements to:

(i) Promote Cultural exchanges for preservation of intangible cultural heritage, organization of cultural activities and management of archaeological heritage sites.

(ii) Enhance cooperation in the field of traditional medicine- where both our countries have a rich knowledge accumulated over centuries, with the objective of promoting the development of Traditional Medicine in two countries' healthcare systems.

(iii) Promote exchanges between our National Sports Associations, sports persons and youth for strengthening cooperation on international sports events, and

(iv) Cooperation in Museum Management for promoting collaboration between Hubei Provincial Museum, Wuhan and the National Museum, New Delhi in the field of exhibitions, protection and restoration of collections and archaeological excavations for Museums.

Separately our two Foreign Ministries have also agreed on a Plan of Action for bilateral engagements for the year 2020.

Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Media Forum is an important event of the 2nd Meeting of the High-Level Mechanism on Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges. Media today plays a critical role in shaping public opinion in any country. With the rapid advances in technology and its widespread usage this role has become more important.

The Media Forum provides a very good platform to discuss and explore ways as to how our respective media can contribute towards the objective of "Closer Developmental Partnership” between our two countries by enhancing appreciation and understanding of each other’s standpoints and core interests. Regular exchanges of media persons and institutionalised cooperation among our media houses could be a good step forward. Such exchanges are especially important because both our countries have each their own system of governance. Another area to look at would be to examine the role and impact of social media.

I strongly believe that this exercise in exchange of ideas amongst opinion makers in the media fraternity will go a long way in building on the achievements of the previous three editions of the Media Forum and contribute to a stronger India-China media relationship.

I hope that you all availed of this opportunity to have frank, candid and meaningful discussions with your counterparts for promoting greater friendship and cooperation between the media of two countries and in the process contribute towards the overall developmental of our bilateral relations. I am confident that the Forum was a big success.

Thank you.

August 12, 2019


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