India and China for the first time will launch a forum for high-level people-to-people and cultural exchange on December 21. The mechanism, which will cap a year of thaw in Sino-Indian ties, will be inaugurated by foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart and state councillor Wang Yi.
Relations between the countries have seen quite a turnaround in 2018 after the bitterness over China’s reluctance to allow India into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and Beijing’s, as the Indian government described it, double standards on terrorism, not least for the way China blocked a UN ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar.
The Wuhan spirit, emanating from the first ever informal summit between PM Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping in April this year, has prevailed though and both sides seem keen to further build upon it.
The two leaders in Wuhan had also discussed ways to promote greater cultural and people-to-people exchanges and agreed to explore establishing new mechanisms in that direction. “The first ever high-level people-to-people and cultural exchange is in line with the sentiment expressed by both leaders in Wuhan,” said a diplomatic source.
The Chinese embassy here had held a youth dialogue last month in the run up to the first ever high-level people-to-people and cultural exchange meeting. Chinese ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui had then said that Sino-Indian relations were at “one of the best periods in history”.
In a congratulatory message, Modi had said that the dialogue dialogue will provide a platform for the youth of both nations to build a Great Wall of Trust and Cooperation between the two countries.
At Wuhan, Modi and Xi had also underscored the importance of maintaining peace and tranquility in all areas of the India-China border region in the “larger interest of the overall development of bilateral relations”.
Significantly for India, the “strategic guidance” issued by the leaders to their respective militaries to strengthen communication in order to build trust and mutual understanding, and enhance predictability and effectiveness in the management of border affairs, has held. By ensuring peace along the border areas, as officials here said, it has not allowed the boundary issue to hinder progress in other areas of the relationship.
Wang, and NSA Ajit Doval, only last month held the 21st meeting of the Special Representatives of India and China on the Boundary Question. Recalling the strategic guidance provided by the leaders at the Wuhan Summit, as a statement by MEA said, the Special Representatives resolved to intensify their efforts to achieve a “fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the India-China boundary question at an early date” .