Pakistan, China custodians of world’s ancient civilizations

An exclusive interview with Social Diary Director of China Cultural Centre, Mr You Yi

By: Zubair Qureshi

Since his arrival in Islamabad less than two months ago (on September 2, 2016) Chinese Cultural Counselor Mr You Yi is already working on a number of ideas and themes to further promote cultural and people-to-people ties between China and Pakistan. A man full of ideas and deep insight Mr Yi has no ambiguity about his role as the cultural ambassador of China in Pakistan and takes pride in the fact that he is in a country that is considered the most trustworthy friend of China. Mr You Yi has earlier served as a diplomat in Finland, Canada, New York City, USA, Netherlands and Ethiopia.

In an exclusive interview, Mr You Yi candidly outlined his plans and vision to strengthen cultural ties between the two countries.

Q: How do you view relations between Pakistan and China especially in the historical perspective?

Mr You Yi: Both Pakistan and China have quite a history of good relations in various fields ranging from economic, cultural, education and industrial to education, sports and art and artists. Pakistan is in fact among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with China and it is because of Pakistan that China opened up to the outer world. That’s why we value our relations with Pakistan and consider it our great friend.

Q: Which are the untapped areas that can be addressed to further strengthen friendly ties between the two countries?

Mr You Yi: Pakistan is China’s all-weather friend, a strategic partner and there are areas which have huge untapped potential for mutual cooperation like tourism, education, art and artists and cultural exchange. China and Pakistan are working on CPEC which will prove game changer in the region, however, at the same time he emphasized that besides economic corridor, cultural corridor is equally important. It will serve to win people’s hearts.

Q: As cultural counselor of China in Pakistan what way forward have you put before yourself in order to promote cultural relations between China and Pakistan?

Mr You Yi: I am looking forward to working at different levels. We have a certain framework to move simultaneously in the areas of education, tourism, art and cultural exchange and women cooperation.

Q: Does your plan include exchange of youth or scholarships for Pakistani students?

Mr You Yi: The government of China is offering scholarships to the Pakistani youth and recently a batch of Pakistani students has left for Chinese universities. Besides, cultural and economic cooperation we have also room for cooperation in the fields of sports. We shall cooperate in this particular area as well. Another area is language of each other’s country. Urdu is being taught at certain Chinese universities, similarly in Pakistan Chinese language is being taught, which is again a reassuring factor. It will also serve as a medium of cooperation and coordination between the two countries.

Q: Pakistan is facing a number of challenges like extremism, terrorism, poverty and militancy. What recipe will you offer to overcome them?

Mr You Yi: The government and people of China are deeply concerned about the menace of terrorism and we extend all out cooperation and assistance to curb this menace. The purpose of the CPEC and cultural cooperation is to build mutual prosperity and mutual benefit which is key to lasting peace.

Q: How can prosperity return to Pakistan?

Mr You Yi: I view political stability and economic prosperity interlinked. Unless there is political stability and things are well in place, dream of prosperity I fear will remain largely unrealized. Pakistan should take maximum advantage of China’s Trade Policy. China is now the world’s second largest economy and China’s trade with the rest of the world reached 4 trillion US Dollars last year. In 1949, China’s GDP per capita was only 35 US Dollars. Now the GDP per capita reached US$8000.

In the end, Mr You Yi said that Beijing and Islamabad have been close partners for decades, the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a reflection of intensified and expanded bilateral cooperation at a time of rising Chinese geopolitical ambition and persistent concerns about Pakistan’s security and development. Chinese Cultural Consular, You Yi ranked the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture and other Pakistani organizations for making the celebrations of 67th Anniversary of founding of People’s Republic of China (1949- 2016) a great success in Pakistan.

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