Speech by Consul General Zhang Lizhong on the Occasion of 3rd Anniversary of the School of Chinese Language in Kolkata
（From Chinese Consulate General in Kolkata）
It's really a great pleasure today to celebrate the 3rd Anniversary of the School of Chinese Language in Kolkata. Just now when I came here in the car, my kid asked me what we are going to do today. I told him that we are going to have a birthday party. He asked whether there will be a birthday cake today. The kid just likes birthday cake and every year anxiously waits for the birthday. For birthday there are always celebration and delicious birthday cake. Today we may not have birthday cake, but we are going to have lots of performances. These are the best way to greet the 3rd Anniversary of the unique Chinese school in Kolkata. I must say that there are several achievements worthy of notetaking for the School of Chinese Language. The School of Chinese Language was founded three years ago with the help of the Consulate General of P. R. China in Kolkata. I was told by my predecessor that when he received the request from Principal Madan Saraff to establish the first Chinese School in Kolkata, he was a little bit doubtful about it. But finally, he was very much moved by the sincere efforts by Mr. Madan Saraff. We do have a lot of reasons to celebrate this 3rd Anniversary and celebrate the birthday of this baby. I hope this baby will grow stronger and stronger in the future and I wish we will see more babies in this area that can devote themselves to the teaching of Chinese Language and to the better understanding of Chinese culture for the local people.
The School of Chinese Language is the first local school with Chinese teachers from the Mandarin Promotion Office of China located in Beijing and it provides the authentic mandarin teaching to those who are interested in learning Chinese language as well as Chinese culture. The School is also the first school that has established the cooperative partnership with Kunming Medical University in Yunan Province, which is the nearest province to Kolkata area by direct flight. A few weeks ago, the School has helped to implement the exchange of students between St. Xavier's Collegiate School and Yunnan Shida Fuzhong, which is a high school affiliated to Yunnan Normal University. I have read the diaries written by those students involved in this exchange programme. I feel touched by their good sentiments and the fresh expriences in China when they stayed there. The School have has made lots of achievements since its establishment and I hope I will see more and more these kinds of achievements. The school has made a right decision to set up the School and to be devoted to Chinese language teaching. The students who have chosen the School and chosen mandarin have made a wise choice for the future career. I believe those students who once touch upon the language of a certain country, in the future will certainly have better opportunity and better access to that country's culture. That will enhance the friendship between the two great civilized nations in the future.
I say it's a wise choice because we are really at a good moment. The relationship between China and India enjoys healthy and stable development momentum. We face a rare and unprecedented opportunity between our two countries. For this half year, I have met so many people who are very much interested in learning Chinese. I was approached by several local private schools and they want Chinese Consulate General to provide some assistance for their teaching of mandarin. What we can do is to provide teaching materials or training of teachers to those private schools. We have helped them to establish some connections with the colleges in China. In the state of Bihar, Patna University, which is one of oldest universities in India, is very much interested to establish some kind of relationship with universities in China. I helped it to get connected with Yunnan University. Yunnan Province has now been implementing the "Gateway Strategy" to South Asian countries and Southeast Asian countries. The Yunnan University immediately responded and the two sides are already involved in the process of further cooperation in the future. I have visited Visva Bharati University and one of my friends from Visva Bharati University also comes here today. He told me just now that they are cooperating with the universities in Yunnan and the President of Visva Bharati University just visited China in Yunnan Province and Xi'an City, Shanxi Province where the terracotta heritage is located. He told me the Chinese side is ready to provide teachers to Visva Bharati University in the near future. These are all positive progress in that field. I feel that there is a strong enthusiasm to learn Chinese mandarin and to understand the culture of China.
From a bigger perspective, China and India are two biggest emerging economies and developing countries. For recent years, we have witnessed the frequent exchange visits of high-level leaders between the two countries. We have witnessed the intensified cultural and educational exchanges and that lots of consensuses on the cultural and educational fields have been reached. For example, this year is the "Year of India-China Exchange". China will host 500 Indian youth to visit China. And this programme will last for the coming five years.
In the business field, I believe that business cooperation is one of the factors behind the fact that so many local people are interested in learning mandarin and understanding Chinese culture. I was told that many multinational companies are eager to have local people to support them with the language of mandarin. They find that it will be much easier if they can have Indian staff who can speak fluent mandarin in the business environment. When we talk about business, last year the annual trade volume between China and India reached 60 billion US dollars, which made China the biggest trading partner of India. We have set a new target of 100 billion US dollars by the year 2015. For recent months I have interacted with many people who are involved in business and I am confident that we can realize the 100 billion US dollars trade target and even go beyond that target. Yesterday, I talked with two Indian friends involved in the energy-saving lamp industry. I was told that in the field of compact fluorescent lamp, in abbreviation CFL, and also in the field of LED, there are huge demands for these products in the market. But because of the limited local production capabilities, supply can not meet the demand. China is developing the new energy industry and has huge investment in that field. In the field of new energy industry, there are lots of business opportunities between the two neighbours.
A few days ago, I met with the Chairman of Kolkata Port. Everyday he sees so many goods exported to China from India, and I asked him what he would think of the trade prospect. He said the market and the trade is absolutely complementary in nature. The market demand is huge and the trade potentiality is huge. And I also asked him what is the biggest problem between the two sides. He responded with the word "confidence". I have to say that his viewpoint is not isolated. Because right now, in our relationship, when we talk about confidence and mutual trust, the problem is that there are some mis-understanding and prejudice existing between our two nations. I think it requires both China and India to make joint efforts to encourage more people-to-people exchanges so as to enhance understanding and mutual trust between the two countries.
When I first came here, some people told me that Indian culture is very much complicated. When you first come here, you may not like it. But the longer you stay, the deeper you will love this culture. My stay has proved that to me. Before I came to Kolkata, I wondered what is the situation in slum area. Generally speaking, slum area is in poor condition. People don't have adequate shelter, don't have adequate food to feed themselves. So I tended to believe that people don't have adequate education in that area. A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to visit a private college and had interactions with students from slum areas. The students told me stories about how they looked at life, how they looked at these difficulties that they met with in their lives. One girl told me she earned 800 rupees every month by doing extra work. And she went to college at night. Her father passed away before she entered the college. Her mother was a household wife and had no income. Her little brother was still in the school. She worked in the daytime to support her family and also paid the fees that her little brother needed in the school. That gave me a very touching moment and encouragement when I heard this story. That changes my perception about slum area. It does not mean that slum area has good economic condition nor the economic situation should not be changed. But for those people even in poor economic conditions, the society gives them opportunities to learn things, and shows tolerance to the disadvantaged. So I advise you who are involved in language learning, teaching and business related with China that when you hear of these mis-perceptions and prejudice, please don't simply take it for granted, but think about it. I don't want you to always believe what I say, but understand that China is as much complicated as India is, because we are both civilized ancient nations and both have long history. It will take much more time for you to have better understanding of that culture. I believe that the students involved in language learning is at a better position in that.
For recent months, there are two important events taking place in China. One is that China has formulated the "Twelfth Five-Year Plan", which sets a blueprint for the coming five years of China's economic and social development. The other is the Communist Party of China is celebrating its ninety years anniversary. 90 years ago, there were only 50 communist party members in China. Now there are already dozens of millions of party members. From these two big events, we can have a better understanding of what is going on in China.
First, China seeks all-around development. Some people think China only seeks economic development, only cares about GDP and doesn't care about other things. There is no political reform in China and only economic reform. I want to say that China seeks both social development and economic development. We have various aspects of social, economic, political, cultural and educational development. Second, China is the second largest economy in the world, but China is still a developing country. In the area of development, the issue of unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable growth is yet to solve. We Chinese are proud of the achievements we have made especially in the past 30 years. We have experienced the pains of the reforms. But finally we have made great progress. India also enjoys rapid economic development. I believe in the future India may become the fastest growing economy exceeding Chinese economic growth. China has decided to lower down the GDP target growth rate from precious five years' 7.5% to future five years' 7%. The idea behind that is to reduce the reliance on the consumption of resources and to avoid the deterioration of environment. We believe that GDP growth is very important for job employment and for the livelihood of the people. But we also realize that it can not be achieved at the cost of over-consumption of resources and the deterioration of environment. That's why according to the "Twelfth Five-year Plan", we decide to lower down that growth rate target. In the meantime, we can pay more attention to how to expand the domestic consumption. For so many years, our economy is driven by export and huge government investment. But that can not be sustainable in the future. I think that India does much better in that regard because India's economy is largely driven by domestic consumption. According to statistics from World Bank, China household spending contribution to its economy is around 35%, and India household spending contributes around 57%, which is much higher than China in that regard. Of course, USA does much better, the household spending contributes 71% to the economy. China now tries to expand the domestic consumptions. One big problem is that some people don't have money. So, we let people have money first. You have money, you are willing to pay, willing to buy things. Recently we have raised the threshold of tax collection to 3500 Yuan RMB. Around 60 million people wage earners benefit from the new tax policy. In that way, people have more income to spend. The other thing is to encourage people to spend money. Because of the problem of social security system, Chinese people have the habit of saving money in case when they are old, they will have money to support their retirement life. The government is now making efforts to implement and improve social security system, so that people don't worry about other things when they spend on such things as kid's education, medical care and travels in the future. China now also carries out the transformation of economic development approach and develops new strategic industries such as new energy, new materials, bio-technology and high-end equipment, etc. From this you see that although China is the second largest economy, we are not a developed country as some western people think. We are still a developing country. As two largest developing countries, India and China face similar problems and challenges in the field of development. Both China and India have huge development tasks ahead.
I am also a language learner. I graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University and English is my major. I feel that language is the best way to know the culture of a different nation. I believe that the students who are now involved in the Chinese language learning will likely spend lots of time in dealing with such an important relationship between China and India. I hope you will not only achieve success in the future careers as a result of learning mandarin, but also will make contributions to the people-to-people friendship between our two great nations.