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Remarks by Consul General Ma Zhanwu at 2nd All India Dragon Boat Festival Gala
(Calcutta Boating & Hotel Resorts, India, 11 June 2017)
2017/06/12

(Check Against Delivery)

Hello, everyone! 大家好!Namaskar! Namaste! Good afternoon!

It is so very nice to see all of you here today! This afternoon we are holding the 2nd All India Dragon Boat Festival Gala. I am very happy that this gala has become a fascinating annual event. Furthermore, this year we have got the authentic dragon boats that came straight from China. These colorful boats are lovely and fantastic. Let me share with you that these boats are the first batch of dragon boats in the whole of India, and we have witnessed the historic moment!

Ladies and gentlemen,

All this makes Kolkata unique in the whole of India.

Indeed, Kolkata is a unique city! It is unique for many great things, and today I must say it is unique also because it is the city with the largest Chinese community, and the city to have attracted Chinese immigrants 170 years ago, when the first Chinese entrepreneur Yang Dazhao set up a sugar factory in Achpur 25 kilometers away from here.

And over the past 170 years, the talented and hard-working members of the Chinese community have contributed to the rich culture and diversified development of the city, by running the Chinese restaurants, the hair saloons, the dentist’s shops, the tanneries and leather stores for shoes, bags and jackets, and of course the Tireti bazar for Chinese breakfast!

Kolkata is unique because its Chinese community has a good number of people who are dedicated to promoting the Chinese culture and the understanding between the Chinese and Indian peoples. They include the organizers of today’s event, such as those with the India-China Association for Culture, Welfare and Development (ICA), the Chinese Indian Association (CIA), and many others with the Chinese Community. They have been working very hard over the past weeks. So let us give them a big hand!

Kolkata is unique because the state government has always been very supportive of the cultural activities in the city. I very much appreciate the presence today of Mr. Javed Ahmed Khan, Minister-in-charge for Disaster Management and Civil Defence of the State Government of West Bengal, and Professor Maria Fernandes, Vice Chairperson of the Minorities Commission of the State Government. Let us give them a loud applause for their support!

Also present as special guests are several VIPs and celebrities from various walks of life here in the city, including:

Mr. Rajarshi Chakraborty, Additional Excise Commissioner, Government of West Bengal;

Ms. Shilpi Chakraborty, Bengali Actress;

Mr. Vishal Garg, Additional Commissioner of Kolkata Police;

Ms. Aditi Biswas, Script Writer and photographer;

Mr. Ayan Banerjee, Chairman of the Institute of Indian Foundrymen;

Dr. Ankita Chakraborty, Recipient of Jyotish (Astrology) Padma Bhushan and Jyotish Bharat Awards.

 

Dear friends,

This year’s Dragon Boat Festival Gala is unique as well, with a long list of fascinating programs. We have had the boat race with participation of 30 young boys and girls, and the competition was intense and exciting.

Soon, we will have the Chinese paper clipping artists who will demonstrate their miraculous skills of cutting out figures and flowers from paper. The artists are from Yunnan Province, China, and they are Ms. Qin Guizhen, Mr. Wang Zhongde, Mr. Wang Xinmu and Ms. Yang Qihui (秦桂珍、王仲德、汪鑫目、杨启慧).

We will have the repertoire for the fans of the lion dance, the martial arts and Taiji. We will also feature traditional Chinese foods, including zongzi, a special snack for the Dragon Boat Festival.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me say a few words about the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival. It is a festival of love and aspiration for peace, prosperity and a good life. It started with a great poet and patriot called Qu Yuan, who lived about 2300 years ago in the Chu State of ancient China, and he was a high-level government official who cared about his people and loved his home state. His advice was regrettably not followed by the king of the state and eventually his home state was conquered and annexed. So he drowned himself in a river. His people loved him greatly and the villagers went by dragon boats to search for him in the river, and they threw rice wrapped in bamboo leaves into the river so that the fish would not eat his body.

Today this festival has become an occasion to have the dragon boat race, the rice wrapped in bamboo leaves, called zongzi, and a time to pray for good luck and bumper harvest in the coming months of the year.

The festival is popular in over 80 countries in the world. And it is believed that the dragon boat race will eventually become an event at the Olympic Games.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Dragon Boat Festival Gala in Kolkata is also unique in the sense that it will become still another link between the Chinese and Indian peoples, after yoga, acupuncture, sugar, tea, silk, martial arts, Buddhist philosophy, Xuan Zang, Tagore and many others.

China and India have had so many interactions over the past two thousand years, and 99.9% of those have been friendly exchanges and communications. Today, although we have a number of differences in the bilateral relationship, as is the case with any country-to-country relationship, yet the shared interests far outweigh the differences. Just two days ago, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi met in Astana, Kazakhstan. They had a very good dialogue and agreed to build a steady relationship and enhance the the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two great nations. In September this year, PM Modi will travel to China again to attend the BRICS Summit and meet President Xi.

So Kolkata is unique in leading the country in enhancing the people-to-people exchanges between China and India, with the participation of all of you present here today, contributing to the friendship and interactions in your own way. And the Chinese community will play a unique and increasingly important role in bridging the two nations in the cultural and economic areas.

Dear friends,

Today we also have 8 unique young students from the local Chinese community, who have scored over 90% in the CBSE, AISSE or other major exams this year, which were conducted a few days ago. As a token of commendation, we will present them with some prizes soon.

Ladies and gentlemen,

My colleagues at the Chinese Consulate General in Kolkata and I myself feel lucky to be in this unique city, this unique state of Bengal, and to work with the unique friends in Eastern India. We have made some progress in promoting ties between China and West Bengal and other states in Eastern India thanks to assistance from you all.

We will continue to work with you and expect to do a few more things in the coming months and years. In particular, we would want to send young people in Kolkata or other parts in Eastern India to China to take part in the Dragon Boat race, martial arts competition, and so on.

And all in all, with our joint efforts, we will make China-India relationship unique, and make it one of the best and most important bilateral relationships in the world.

In conclusion, I wish all of you a great time this afternoon.

Thank you! Dhanyavad! 谢谢!

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