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Chinese Consulate Kolkata and Partners Holds Symposium on China-India Buddhist and Other Exchanges

The Consulate General of People’s Republic of China in Kolkata, in cooperation with Lingyin Temple of Hangzhou, China, Hsuan Tsang Monastery of Kolkata, and Cheena Bhavana of Visva Bharati University of Santiniketan, hosted an international symposium with the theme of “Buddhist Exchanges between China and India: Past and Future”, at the Oberoi Grand Hotel kolkata, West Bengal, India on 15 March 2018.

Mr Ma Zhanwu, the Chinese Consul General in Kolkata; Master Guangquan, Abbot of Lingyin Temple and head of the Chinese Buddhist Association (CBA) delegation; Master Qingyuan from CBA; Master Huirong of Hsuan Tsang Monastery; Master Minghui, Abbot of Qian Fo Ta Temple of Meizhou, China; Professor SabujKoli Sen, Vice Chancellor of Visva Bharati University; Former Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, Vice President of Centre for East and North-East Regional Studies-Kolkata (CENERS-K); Professor Paula Banerjee and Mr. Arundhati Mukhopadhyay, respectively Vice Chancellor and Registrar of Sanskrit College and University; seventeen scholars from China and India; teachers and students of Jadavpur University, Calcutta University, Sanskrit College and University, as well as disciples of Lingyin Temple and Qian Fo Ta Temple, making up a gathering of over 200 Chinese and Indians, were present at the symposium.

Speaking at the inauguration, Mr. Ma said that China-India friendly exchanges dates back to the ancient times, and the two countries started commercial and other interactions several thousand years ago, which contributed to the development of what was later called the Silk Road. And Buddhism was introduced into China through this Silk Road. Chinese monks like Fa Xian and Hsuan Tsang also went to India by the same road. Some Indian monks traveled to China and established Lingying, Shaolin and other Buddhist temples. Thesefriendly interactions between the two countries reflect the Silk Roadspirit, at the core of which is peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit. In 2013, President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative. This symposium would belong to the category of people-to-people understanding, whic is one of the five factors of connectivity under the BRI.

Mr Ma said that both China and India will become more influential in the world, and it is very important that the two countries have sound and steady relationship between them, and the best way to achieve it is to enhance people-to-people exchanges, friendship and mutual trust between them. Specifically the two nations can negotiate and sign an FTA, a treaty of good neighborly friendship, and combine the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China with the development strategy proposed by India. The Chinese Consulate would like to work together with friends from China and India to continuously promote the all-round exchanges and cooperation between the two countries, and expects the scholars to give advice in this respect.

Master Guangquan and Huirong said that China and India are close neighbors separated only by a strip of water, and the Buddhist exchanges between the two countries run a long history. The symposium today has important and practical implications. It is hoped that through this symposium, people could know more about the history of the friendly exchanges, and thus to promote people-to-people exchanges in the new era, and further deepen the friendship of the two peoples.

Professor Sen said that Visva Bharati is honored to be part of this symposium. She also indicated that Buddhist exchanges are an important component of the exchanges between the two countries, and the university looks forward to enhancing communications with Chinese academic circles, and to working with the others to advance the bilateral friendly exchanges.

The scholars talked about the Buddhist and other interactions between China and India in the past millennia, and made recommendations on how to better develop the bilateral ties. The first session titled“Buddhism in China and India” included the following presentations: 1.Zheng Weihong -- Two Summits of Indian Buddhist Logic; 2.Madhumita Chattopadhyay -- Initial Stage of India-China Cultural Relationship: Role of Kumarajiva; 3. Li Wei -- Propel Buddhist Documentary Studies Under the Cooperation Between Chinese and Indian Scholars; 4. Anirban Dash -- Buddhist Manuscript Tradition: Bridging India and China; 5. Wu Weilin -- On the Amplification of Hsuan Tsang’s Translation of Abhidharmakosa; 6. Liu Zhen -- What is Bodhimanda? 7. Supriya Rai -- Vimalakirti: An Indian Merchant in Dunhuang Art and Chan Alcoves; 8. Huang Zheng -- The Indian Elements in Dunhuang Scriptures; 9. Anita Sharma -- Silk Road Connections: Glimpses of Jade Gate and Mogao Caves.

The second session “Impact of China-India Buddhist Exchanges” includes following presentations: 1. Lv Jianfu -- How and Why Buddhism Became the Mainstream Media on the history of China-India Cultural Communication; 2. Lalji -- Paramartha: Predecessor of Xuan Zang and his Contribution to Chinese Buddhism; 3. Li Li’an --Analysis of Several Features of Ancient China-India Buddhism Cultural Communication by Taking the Example of Xuanzang; 4. Rajiva Kumar Sinha -- Ideology and State in Medieval Eastern India: A Study in the Travel Account of Xuan Zang; 5. Li Chunyao -- A Discussion of Dhuta Practice in Ancient India and its Brief Boom in Jin and Yuan Dynasty of China; 6. Avijit Banerjee -- Role of Indian Buddhist Monks in China in Promoting India-China Educational Exchanges; 7. Li Guotai -- On the Role of the Hsuan Tsang Monastery in Exchanges between Meizhou and Kolkata; 8. Wu Chengting -- A Significant China-India Buddhist Exchange in Modern History: The Visit of the Great Master Taixu’ with Chinese Buddhist Delegation to India in 1940.

Times Of India, the Telegraph, The Statesman, Ei Samay, PTI, andother local mainstream media houses were present to cover the event.

Later that day, Consul General Ma had further discussion with several scholars and disciples at his residence.

Deputy Consul General Cai Zhifeng; Consuls Shao Yujin, Li Suyun, Chen Yongliang, Dou Aidong, and Zhang Jing; Vice Consuls Xie Chao and Shi Lijun; Consular Attache Liu Li were also present at the event.

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