September 8, 2017

India is the toughest challenge to China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Expert


BAJINDER PAL SINGH
Feng Da-Hsuan

Feng Da-Hsuan

Bangkok – A prominent American scholar of Chinese descent has described India as one of the toughest, if not the toughest challenge for China to develop the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of Macau (UMacau).

Feng Da-Hsuan,Director of Global Affairs and Special Advisor to Rector of University of Macau (UMacau),who has been delivering numerous talks on the BRI (previously referred to as One Belt One Road) at various forums, has stated that China cannot ignore the 1.26 billion Indian people living on its southern flank. Similarly, India cannot wish away China, Feng Da-Hsuan said, while delivering a talk on what he termed as the “Millennium Mindset Transformation induced by the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Speaking to an international audience in Thailand, the India-born, American national and Chinese origin professor contrasted Chinese and Indian scholarship where he quoted an example of translation of Confucian philosophy in Hindi, adding that “India has a level of intellectual strength that is so strong that it does not exist in China.” On the other hand, there is no Chinese who can understand the deepest Indian literature and then translate it into Chinese, he opined. However, it is also a fact that till about five years ago, less than a thousand people in India were known to be fluent in the Chinese language. Also, India is way ahead in the domain of cultural communication, and Indians have adapted and understood the American civilization very well, which has helped them emerge as CEOs and University Presidents. This has helped them emerge successful in the United States, as compared to the Chinese community.

He stated that barring 1962, both India and China had never experienced a conflict for thousands of years. This conflict created a subliminal hostility between the governments of the two countries, he added. “Instead of worrying about the border, why don’t the two come together and solve the problems of the world,” Feng asked. India and China represent 40 percent of humanity, and they have had only one relatively small conflict as compared to major wars in the world.

While India did not participate in the Belt and Road Initiative Forum in May, he expressed the hope that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the BRICS Forum that is scheduled to be held in the coastal city of Xiamen in September.

Interacting with an international audience at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Thailand, Feng stated that a relatively lesser known fact about an interaction between Indian and China was that over 15,000 Indian students are currently studying in China. Further, he mentioned that recently faculty members from IIT Guwahati were recruited by a university in China at almost five times the salary that they earned in India.

Feng asserted that he does not represent the Chinese government and that he has been delivering lectures on BRI as an academician. His assertion that the BRI would impact cultural communication was challenged by Thai journalist and editor Suthichai Yoon, who asked whether the political leadership in China is ready for this cultural opening. Feng responded by stating that the tremendous growth in China has meant an adjustment to new emerging realities has been a challenge within China as well as the outside world.

Comparing China and India, Feng added that India, courtesy of its multitude and diverse cultures and languages does not think collectively; while China, being predominantly Han, things collectively.

Responding to a question, Feng stated that he does not see China “ever becoming a democratic country,” and added that in his opinion, “it should not.”

The Democratic process is relatively new, and so is communism, and Chinese communism is different from Marxist communism, he remarked. And while American President Donald Trump is not going to solve the problems of the world, but collectively both China and India can, he added.

Feng had previously delivered an online talk at IIT Guwahati and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore earlier this year, and this was his first talk in Thailand. His talk in Thailand was attended by embassy representatives from Finland, Poland, Cambodia, and Kenya.