Cultural Exchange and Mutual Learning between Chinese and Indian Civilizations —— A Parallel Forum of the 2022 International Yoga Day & China-India Cultural Exchange Event

At the second parallel forum, guests from China, India, and the UK delivered speeches on the theme of “Cultural Exchange and Mutual Learning between Chinese Civilization and Indian Civilization.”
by Zhao Yue
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Guests discuss at the “Cultural Exchange and Mutual Learning between Chinese Civilization and Indian Civilization” parallel forum.

The 2022 International Yoga Day & China-India Cultural Exchange Event was held on June 21 in Kunming, southwestern China’s Yunnan Province. The event was attended by Chinese and overseas guests both in-person and virtually. At the main forum and three parallel forums, over 50 scholars and experts from various sectors joined the discussion. At the second parallel forum, guests from China, India, and the UK delivered speeches on the theme of “Cultural Exchange and Mutual Learning between Chinese Civilization and Indian Civilization.”

Mao Shichang, director and research fellow at the Centre for Indian Studies of the School of Politics and International Relations, Lanzhou University, stressed that yoga is more than just a way to keep fit and involves many subjects such as philosophy, psychology, and medicine. In modern China, yoga has become a culture, a way of life, and a philosophy, he said.

R.N. Bhaskar, consulting editor with Free Press Journal, cited three examples in his speech to illustrate different approaches China and India have adopted to address problems related to culture, education, and poverty. He emphasized that when talking about equality, poverty reduction is the best metric to gauge its progress and that education results in higher culture and better growth for a country. He called for proper handling of these issues because everything depends on our ability to live side-by-side with each other.

Qiao Zhenqi, director of the South Asian Communication Department of the Center for Europe and Asia of China International Communications Group (CICG) and editor-in-chief of the China-India Dialogue multimedia platform, suggested that considerable time is still needed to bridge the understanding gap and connect the hearts of people from China and India. The purpose of establishing the China-India Dialogue multimedia platform is to establish an effective communication and dialogue channel between China and India based on commonalities of the two time-honored cultures.

Zhao Bole, professor and Ph.D. supervisor of the Institute of International Studies at Yunnan University, stressed that people-to-people and cultural exchanges compose an important cornerstone for the healthy development of China-India relations, which requires concerted efforts of both sides.

Li Jianxin, a researcher at the Institute of World Religion of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and deputy editor-in-chief of The Religious Cultures in the World, said that in the history of human civilization, Chinese civilization, Indian civilization, and Western civilization are the three major poles that are equally important and irreplaceable. China and India should jointly promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges and further facilitate mutual learning.

In his speech, Yukteshwar Kumar, deputy mayor of Bath and a senior lecturer on Politics, Languages & International Studies at the University of Bath in the UK, compared traditional Chinese values advocating achieving universal harmony with the ancient Indian philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam suggesting that the entire world is one family, which are quite similar concepts. China and India, with a unique relationship “created by heaven” as described by Chinese Indologist Ji Xianlin, should never drift away from each other.

Yu Xinli, professor at the India-China Yoga College and director of the China-India Cultural Exchange Centre at Yunnan Minzu University, said that communication and understanding between the youth and educational circles of China and India should be strengthened through promotion of people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

Himadrish Suwan, chairman of the Confederation of Young Leaders and director of the Indian Institute of Governance and Leadership, said that yoga represented not just the civilizational connection between China and India, but also the modern aspirations of the two peoples. Deepening cultural and people-to-people exchanges is an effective way to avoid suspicion and promote mutual dialogue and understanding.

Zhu Li, deputy editor-in-chief of Shandong Education Press, said in her speech that books are an effective tool for promoting communication and mutual understanding among different civilizations. Academic and publishing circles in China and India should strengthen cooperation, use books as a bridge to promote traditional friendship, and deepen exchange and mutual learning to build a better future together.

Raja Murthy, executive principal of Madurai International School and deputy director of the Export Promotion Division of the Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce, called yoga a combination of science and art and a bond that connects India and China. He called on more people to practice yoga to achieve harmony between body and mind.

Rama Moorthy, former head of the Centre for Language Technology at the Central Institute of Indian Language, talked about how people have destroyed forests and moved away from nature for the sake of development and modernization. He suggested that yoga is a key solution to bring peace of mind and a healthy life. 

Zhang Qi, director of the Tamil Language Teaching and Research Office at Yunnan Minzu University, said that language learners and educators would continue to produce more young professionals who will hopefully build a bridge for cultural exchange between China and India. He stressed that the young generation shoulders the responsibility of promoting bilateral ties.

Gan Luting, a teacher of Hindi and Bengali languages at the School of South and Southeast Asian Languages and Cultures of Yunnan Minzu University, said that in the process of spreading yoga philosophy in China, it is important to combine it with the traditional Chinese culture and make it more localized to optimize mutual learning among civilizations, uphold the beauty of each civilization, and promote the diversity of civilizations.

M. Krishnan, vice chancellor of the Central University of Tamil Nada, said that India and China boast a relationship of more than 2,000 years, and have lots of cultural connections traditionally. He praised the event for providing a platform for further cultural exchange between the two countries.

Supported by CICG, the Foreign Affairs Office of Yunnan Provincial People’s Government, the Publicity Office of Yunnan Provincial People’s Government, the 2022 International Yoga Day & China-India Cultural Exchange Event was hosted by Yunnan Minzu University, the CICG Center for Europe and Asia (China Pictorial Publications), and the Publicity Department of the Kunming Municipal Party Committee. The event was organized by the India-China Yoga College of Yunnan Minzu University, the editorial department of China-India Dialogue of CICG, and the Yunnan International Communication Center for South & Southeast Asia.