Ambassador Zhang Yan: Cementing China-India Cooperation with the Inspiration of Shanghai World Expo
-----Marking India Pavilion Day, August 18, 2010
2010-08-21 23:54

In the past 110 days, the Shanghai World Expo 2010, with its theme "Better City, Better Life" has been a hot tourism destination and cultural focus in China and throughout the world. It has already attracted over 41 million domestic and international visitors. Full of curiosity and expectation, I spared one day in the Expo Park to enjoy this feast of world civilizations.

The Expo Park is really huge. I felt being in a wonderland upon my walking into the Park. Exotic buildings of folk style or modern and postmodern fashion scattered in the Park. They are pavilions of participating countries, regions and international organizations. Each of these buildings embeds particular characteristics and looks unique. I know I do not have time to visit them one by one. So I resisted the temptation of walking in every pavilion, but threaded my way towards the one I have been looking forward to visiting for long, the Indian Pavilion.

Soon I caught sight of the gigantic Indian pavilion. It is an immense building with a crimson central dome, quite like an ancient Indian monument, leading visitors onto a journey of Indian cities from the past to the present. The entrance to the pavilion is a vaulted portal with the "Tree of Life" carving inspired by the "Siddi Syed Mosque" at Ahmedabad. The façade of the Indian pavilion reminds me not only of the grand monument in Ahmedabad but also of the festive occasion and full-bodied flavour of Indian culture. The central motif of the pavilion is a large dome that rises out of the broad entry foyer. Adorned with green plants and fanciful design of metallic trees, the dome furthers the contrast between modernity and antiquity by replicating the famous Sanchi Stupa, an ancient Buddhist monument commissioned in the third century B.C. by King Ashoka.

The most interesting and inspiring as well, about the Indian Pavilion is that it endorses the elements of major religions in its architectural theme. There are symbols of Islamic, Hindu, Christian, and Sikh in the architecture, expressing the idea of building up harmony of diverse religions and cultures under the same roof. In my understanding, the concept of "Unity in Diversity" is deeply rooted in the Indian culture and society. And that is why I always find Indian culture is very close to the Chinese culture. Both China and India are multi-ethnic nations bestowed with diverse and colorful ethnic customs and culture. How to build up the unity in our society while preserving the diversity of the human culture is a meaningful topic to us.

The main part of the India pavilion, a bamboo-made dome, with a diameter of 34.4 meters is amazing. The dome contains an interlaced network of more than 500 pieces of 20 meter-length rods of bamboo from Zhejiang province, a province where I came from. I was told this world's largest bamboo dome is an architectural and engineering masterpiece and a symbol of India's commitment to live in harmony with nature. Bamboo, for its fast growth and high renewability, has been strongly promoted by the international community as a good source of construction material in our daily life and industry as well. The pursuit of energy efficiency in modern society is also reflected in the pavilion. The whole architecture uses solar panels and wind power with plants growing on the dome to absorb carbon dioxide and heat. The terracotta and stone floor in the pavilion is inspired by the palace at Rampur in Varanasi and is cooled by embedded pipes. Despite the strong sunlight outside, people feel quite cool and comfortable inside.

As to the exhibition, the Indian pavilion focuses on the integration between urban and rural regions through trade and services, with theme of "Cities of Harmony". There is a shopping arcade leading to the bamboo dome, where artisans from various regions of India demonstrate their folk technique there and sell a whole wide variety of Indian products. There is also a big food booth sells traditional Indian delicacies to treat the visitors' taste buds.

Apart from the Indian Pavilion, the idea of building an inclusive city for people from all walks of life is also reflected in two Indian cities, Pondicherry and Ahmedabad, which have been selected as the examples of urban best practices. I once visited Ahmedabad in 2008 and Pondicherry in 2009, which left vivid and deep impressions upon me. These two cities showcase how India handles the problems caused by fast expanding city and how the modern and future city would be in the eyes of the Indian people. The massive use of highly efficient vehicles powered by natural gas is another wonderful experience.

China and India have the common aspiration of building better cities and better living environment for our people. Developing new construction materials, exploring pioneer ideas of building future urban life by using advanced technologies to improve our life are new and promising fields in which China and India can work together. China and India have already had close and fruitful cooperation in dealing with challenges such as climate changes in international forum, notably the Copenhagen Climate Conference last year.

Indian President Pratibha Patil toured Expo Park in June during her state visit to China and highly commented the Indian Pavilion, designed by India and constructed by China, as "a successful example of India-China cooperation". It is also my belief that with enhanced mutual trust and increased bilateral interaction, China and India will have growing frontiers to explore. Together we will make new contributions to the building of a harmonious world, as well as the development and prosperity of humanity.

                                                              Chinese Ambassador to India

                                                                      Zhang Yan

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