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The Cultural Exchange of CPEC

The countries of China and Pakistan have exerted a considerable amount of cultural influence on each other over past centuries. This is set to increase hugely over the next few decades with China’s investment into One Belt, One Road (OBOR) and its flagship project, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

$5 trillion worth of investment will be ploughed into infrastructure along OBOR, and $62 billion will be for CPEC specifically.  This investment is obviously about improving trade, however it is also part of China’s “Good Neighbour Policy: a strategy of peaceful development and building and promoting interdependent relationships rather than competitive ones.

The influx of Chinese money and people will expand cultural knowledge for both countries.  To highlight how the cultural crossover will occur and its impact on both countries, we’ve listed a few facts to help demonstrate this:

Cultural engagement through language promotion:

It’s fair to say that Urdu and the Chinese language are very different. For one thing, they do not share an alphabet or sentence structure. The Chinese language has existed for quite some time, as far back as 5000 BC, whilst Urdu has its roots in a mixture of languages, notably Persian, Turkish, Sanskrit and Punjabi.  The investment in CPEC will provide a great opportunity for the people of China and Pakistan to learn more about each other’s language, history and culture.

Language enables people to communicate and voice their sentiments and opinions in a rational and understandable way. To promote dialogue and cooperation, the CPEC authority has opened Urdu learning centers in China. Numerous Chinese learning centers were also established in Pakistan even before the launch of CPEC and are currently in very high demand.

Tourism

Tourism is an important contributor to any country’s economy and CPEC enables the citizens of both China and Pakistan to easily and frequently cross the border.

The culture, norms, and warm hospitality exhibited by the five provinces of Pakistan are truly diverse and they have the potential to attract many Chinese tourists. By the same token, CPEC also opens up opportunities for Pakistani tourists and travel enthusiasts to visit China and explore its provinces and historical places, and discover more about their culture.

Both countries have a diverse range of locations that interest tourists: whether it is the Great Wall of China; the majestic beauty of Azad Kashmir; The Forbidden City; The Lahore Fort from the Mughal dynasty; or The Mogao Cave; all these places generate a great deal of tourism and prosperity for both countries.

Religious Tourism

Ancient Buddhist sites and places of heritage are also popular venues for tourists. Despite the fact that Buddhism is a largely unfamiliar religion in Pakistan, there are numerous Buddhist sites and attractions, especially in Taxila, parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan. There are also many sites which are located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the Swat province.

One of the most important and sacred sites to be found in China is the tombs of Saad ibn abi Waqas and Thabit ibn Ways. These tombs hold a great deal of attraction not just for Muslims in Pakistan but for all Muslims around the world, because they contain the remains of the closest companions of the Prophet Muhammad.

Cultural Tourism

Pakistan consists of five provinces and they all manufacture a variety of metal and handicraft goods, feature local cuisine, hold festivals and many other activities with respect to their traditions. Every single city has its own unique culture and identity which makes it different and distinct from not just other cities in other provinces but also from other cities within the province. In Lahore, for instance, you can find the best food, local musical instruments, and handicrafts from all over Punjab, while Peshawar is notable for its handicrafts, spices, and rich diversity of culture.

In China, cultural diversity can be found in so many cities and provinces that people are bound to be attracted from anywhere in the world.  They have their own porcelain, pottery techniques, art, not to mention the ancient history of China and the fact that chess originated there. Kung Fu is considered to be one of the greatest martial art disciplines in the world and it is a major influence on Chinese culture. People from around the world regularly visit the Spring Festival, also known as The New Year Festival, which marks the completion of the Lunar Year in China.

Educational Tourism

More than 22,000 students from Pakistan are enrolled in universities in China. Though there is  no record of how many Chinese students there are in Pakistan, it is understood that the general number of Chinese citizens is growing strongly and steadily – recent figures show 60,000 are in Pakistan as of 22 January 2018.

There are many renowned colleges, universities and schools in both countries, which present highly suitable locations for students. Pakistan has the University of Central Punjab (UCP) and the National University of Science and Technology (NUST). In China, Fudan University and the University of Science and Technology are some of the most prominent names in the field of higher education. Whether it is engineering, law, business, the arts, medicine, computer studies or any other field, reputable universities can be found in both countries.

  1. Chinese Language – EthnoMed https://ethnomed.org/culture/chinese/chinese-language-profile
  2. Urdu learning center to be set up in China – CPEC latest news http://www.cpecinfo.com/news/urdu-learning-center-to-be-set-up-in-china/MTk2Mw==

  3. Pakistan Information http://www.asia-planet.net/pakistan/region-cities.htm

  4. China a beacon of light for Pakistani students https://tribune.com.pk/story/1686444/1-china-beacon-light-pakistani-students/

  5. Chinese influence outpaces influx https://www.dawn.com/news/1384511

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