Why we are friends, and should remain so


I am a 27-year-old Chinese citizen. A big fan of Aamir Khan, I came to know India through Three Idiots, P.K., and then Taare Zameen Par. And on the night Dangal was released in China, I invited several friends to watch it with me, and they were all surprised by the cultural distinctiveness of India, very different from what we see in China.

I have just returned to China after travelling in India for a month. While travelling as a foreigner in India, I received so much help from strangers every day, everywhere. People were just helpful, without a thought for where I was from, no matter whether they liked our government, unconcerned about what language I spoke. All those I met in India had big hearts and were willing to make friends. Sometimes, even when my ‘Chiglish’ did not match their ‘Inglish’, they helped me by means of gestures, realising a traveller’s helplessness.

Help with directions

The first night I arrived in Pune, I tried to find a hotel. I was carrying two big suitcases. I asked a woman, who was teaching her kid to ride a bike, for directions, and she stopped to guide me patiently. I walked on. And then her older son, who was about 10, came with me until I could actually see the hotel. This kind of thing happened every day when I was in India. The kid who walked with me is our future. If I have kids, I will definitely teach them to behave the same way.

This is not only about what I encountered while in India. The Indian and Chinese people could and should be good friends. Our ancestors were friends in our long history, we are good friends now, and our kids will definitely be closer friends, too.

If we understand the long and rich history of our countries, there should be no reason why we should have a dispute on the border. Both India and China have long histories of prosperity and then poverty over several centuries, and now they are just trying hard to return to the old glory. If we stopped now to fight for no reason, nobody will appreciate it.

I was born in a small village near Quanzhou city, which used to be an import-export hub. It was once known for its openness to all kinds of peoples, cultures and religions. During the reign of the Song dynasty, we received people from across the world, including from Gujarat, involved in the import-export business. Temples and statues that remind us of ancient India stand in my town.

Great leaders all

As ordinary Chinese people, we are glad to see that both India and China have great leaders who are concerned with the right way to grow our respective economies and reform our societies. My friends in India are all confident of the Narendra Modi government and looking forward to more reforms under his administration. It is the same in China, where we have seen slower economic growth in recent years. But people are witnessing great efforts to combat corruption and to become confident of the future. India and China are on the right path to become better countries, and these signals could well be a good start for Asia as a whole.

On the economy, both our countries have a long way to go before becoming really rich countries. Both have poor people and need help economically. They cannot and should not pay for the cost of a war, which will make no sense. No matter what you call it, Doklam or Doka La, a piece of land is just a piece of land. If India and China fight, the rest of world will laugh at us. Why should two old cultures now try to send young people to death just for a piece of barren land.

Nationalism at work

Nationalism worked well in the past and still works in the minds of some of us. For this reason, however, we cannot say there will be no dispute in the future.

But as a young man I wish to know more people in both the lovely countries. Let’s remember the historical lesson that Jawaharlal Nehru taught us, that we should have a happy and peaceful face; we may face difficulties, but we will resolve them with joy.