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In the autumn of 1991, soon after receiving a master’s degree from the Center of Chinese & Southeast Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, B. R. Deepak boarded a plane to Hong Kong and then Beijing, where he spent two years at Peking University as a visiting scholar. During his stay in Beijing, Deepak fell in love with Wang Yao, a Chinese girl attending Peking University. Several years later, they got married.
At the time, no direct flights connected India and the Chinese mainland, and only a few Indian students studied in China. Transnational marriages between the two countries were even rarer. Today, however, Chinese and Indian people in many cities can fly directly to each other’s country, and the volume of Indian students studying in China exceeds 13,000. Mixed marriages between Chinese and Indians have become commonplace.
After decades of academic work as a Professor of Chinese at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Deepak is now a renowned sinologist, translator and expert on China-India relations. He stresses that although China-India relations remain a tiny slice of international exchange in the world, the bilateral relationship has seen a tremendous transformation compared to what it was 26 years ago.
During his most recent trip to Beijing, Professor Deepak sat down with China-India Dialogue to talk about issues including China-India relations and cultural exchange. He spoke Chinese throughout the interview and directly addressed old and new problems that the two countries face. As an expert on Chinese culture and civilization, he has a deep insight into the national personality of Chinese people and China’s diplomacy. He believes that the solution to the normalization of China-India relations is dialogue over doubt.
“Belt and Road” to India?
On November 5, 2016, Deepak gave a lecture on the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative at Doon University in Uttarakhand, India. The northern Indian state of Uttarakhand borders China’s Tibet Autonomous Region on the western route of the Belt and Road. As founder of the Department of Chinese at Doon University, Deepak hopes that more Indians, especially young people, will become familiar with China and the Belt and Road Initiative. So far, outside of academic circles, most Indians have no idea about it.
China introduced the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, aiming to optimize its advantages in transportation engineering, promote in-depth connectivity with neighboring countries through infrastructure, connect “growing Asia” to “developed Europe” and accelerate regional and global development.