China eager to maintain friendship with India: Consular general
Notwithstanding the escalating tensions with India over the visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, China says it is keen to ensure its ties with India remain cordial.
Today, Ma Zhanwu, the consular general in Kolkata of the People’s Republic of China, extended invitations to the mayor of Siliguri Municipal Corporation and representatives of St. Joseph’s School and St. Paul’s School in Darjeeling for an exchange tour of China.
The Chinese diplomat, on a three day tour of the north Bengal region, arrived in Darjeeling on Thursday evening and visited the two premier educational institutions. A day earlier, the consular general met officials of the CII- North Bengal chapter and today, he visited a tea garden.
Interacting with media persons, Zhanwu talked about India’s visa policy, educational exchanges between the two countries, tourism prospects, trade import and export and the possibility of jointly organising a tea conference in Darjeeling.
“We want to promote exchanges between our two countries. I met the Siliguri Mayor, Ashok Bhattacharya, and talked about ways to promote such exchanges between China, Darjeeling and Siliguri and how to learn from each other, especially the challenges of rapid urbanisation,” said Zhanwu today in Darjeeling.
The Chinese diplomat also extended Bhattacharya an invitation to visit China in May. “I have invited the Siliguri mayor for discussions and consultations with his counterparts in China. Many problems that China and India face are similar in nature, as such sharing success experience will be beneficial for both sides,” said Zhanwu.
The Siliguri mayor, who said he has visited China five times, was excited about the prospect of learning about China’s urbanisation policies. “I am interested in China’s economy and urbanisation policies. I am excited about the invitation and being the mayor of a corporation, I am eager to learn how best to tackle the urbanisation problem,” said Bhattacharya.
On the invitation to St. Joseph’s St. Paul’s, the consular general said, “Education exchanges are good. I visited the two premier schools on Thursday. As developing countries it is important to learn about each other's educational systems. Through the exchange programme we will be able to know how education is taken up in our respective countries."
The twin invitations come in the wake of chief minister Mamata Banerjee being invited to China. Ma Zhanwu today visited Rangeet tea garden in the town’s outskirts and was impressed with the quality of tea being produced. He said Darjeeling tea is favoured by the young Chinese people.
“I have come to know that some of the tea bushes were planted more than a hundred years ago. It is interesting to know they still give that special flavour and colour to enchant tea connoisseurs the world over. In fact, young Chinese people prefer Darjeeling tea,” said the Chinese diplomat.
He added, “I met officials of the CII North Bengal chapter yesterday and they have proposed to jointly organise a World Tea Heritage Conference in October. We will be happy to be part of it."
Asked about his impression about the ongoing Indo-China border trade at Nathula and the possibility of upgrading it, the Chinese diplomat said it was for the two governments to determine.
“Trade via Nathula has limited functions. However, at present it is good. Maybe we can consider upgrading it, but the policies depend on the two governments,” said Zhanwu.
Regarding tourism prospects, he expressed satisfaction saying a lot has to do with the visa policy India has adopted.
“An increasing number of Chinese tourists are coming to India because of its visa policy,” he remarked. (EOIC)