Mr. Sumit Mullick, Additional Chief Secretary of Maharashtra,
Hon. Sushila Abute, Mayor of Solapur,
Mr. Sanjay Deshmuk, Vice Chancellor of Mumbai University,
Mr. Sudheedra Kulkani, Chairman of ORF Mumbai
Mr. Madhav Bhandari, BJP Spokesman,
Dr. Rajan Borker, Representative of the Family of Dr. Kotnis,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to attend the special ceremony today.
The masterpiece of the handwritten condolence message tells us a very touching story. In 1938, a young Indian Doctor named Dwarkanath Kotnis abandoned his middle class life in Mumbai and went to the battlefields of anti-Japanese war in the remote northern part of China. He saved a lot of Chinese soldier's lives with his professional medical skills. 4 years later he sacrificed his young life in the battlefields. His story had touched the hearts of many Chinese people. In late 1942 Chairman Mao wrote a condolence message to commemorate Dr. Kotnis.
In the 1950s, this master piece was delivered to Dr. Kotnis' family members in India, and it has been kept in Solapur Museum later.
As time goes by, this masterpiece has been slightly broken and needed to be restored. The Chinese government then decided to repair it. This is the story behind the master piece presented before us today.
Today's ceremony is very significant. First, we get together to celebrate the restoration and hand-over of the masterpiece.
To my knowledge, there are no more than 3 pieces of Chairman Mao's personal handwriting abroad. Chairman Mao is not only a great leader, the founder of PRC, but also a famous calligrapher. This one is truly priceless. It has expressed the profound sentiments of the Chinese people towards the Indian people. It also demonstrated Chairman Mao's artistic achievements in calligraphy.
Secondly, this year marks the 75th anniversary of the passing away of Dr. Kotnis. Dr. Kotnis is a hero from India and a friend of China. The ceremony shows that Chinese people and Indian people will never forget the hero.
Thirdly, the future lies in the past. Two days ago I visited the Ajanta and Ellora Caves. I was so impressed by the Chinese elements in the caves. Our historic link can be traced back to more than 2000 years.
Today we have inherited our ancestors and Dr. Kotnis' legacy. Our bilateral relations have made great progress. Our leaders have interacted with each other frequently. Remarkable achievements have been made in our trade and economic cooperation. Our subnational level cooperation has flourished. We have also begun discussion on law enforcement cooperation and jointly fighting terrorism.
India is my second home. Before joining the Foreign Service, I was an academia in a think tank, focusing on India studies. The only reason for me to join the Foreign Service is that I wanted to see India with my own eyes. And becoming a diplomat seemed to be the only way to do that in those years. My first post in New Delhi was in the late 1980s. Since then I have witnessed and participated in many big events in our bilateral relations. My wife got her PHD degree from the Delhi University. It is also worth mentioning that Dr. Ji Xianlin was my tutor. Thanks to Vice Chancellor Deshmuk, the newly built Ji Xianlin Center for India-China Studies will serve as a new platform for academic research and cooperation between the two countries.
I know that even members of the same family sometimes got problems. India and China are two big neighbouring countries. It is quite natural that we have some differences. And it is very important that we handle these differences carefully and ensure that the bilateral friendship and cooperation is heading for the right direction. I am quite optimistic about our relations and our future cooperation.
Since I came here three months ago, I have been discussing some new ambitious proposals with our Indian friends. For example, we should negotiate the bilateral Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, Free Trade Agreement, early harvest related to border issues and so on. We should also discuss how to synergize China's Belt and Road Initiative with India's Act East Policy. In this regard, I called on the Chief Minister of Maharashtra yesterday and also exchanged views with Mr. Kulkami and other people.
I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to ORF Mumbai, Mumbai University, Solapur administration, Maharashtra government for their support to today's function. I want to express special appreciation to the relatives of Dr. Kotnis for their continued contribution to China-India relations.
Of course, without the professional craftsmanship and the hard work of two Chinese experts Ms. Zhao Li and Ms. Zhu Pinfang, the restoration work would not be possible. Let's give them a big round of applause.
Last but not least, my thanks also go to Chinese Consul General Zheng Xiyuan and his colleagues who have done a great job to arrange everything related to the restoration project.
Dr. Kotnis will live forever in the hearts of our two peoples.
Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai.