Cultural exchange and promoting people-to-people bonds is one of the cooperative priorities of China’s revolutionary idea of connectivity Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (C-PEC) is an initiative towards attaining “Greater Connectivity” through roads, railways and maritime routes between Beijing and Islamabad which is also one of the economic corridors from other then six economic corridors of China’s BRI.
Pakistan is a country of diverse cultures, traditions with almost 73 different dialects. C-PEC also said to be a combination of three Cs i.e connectivity, corridor linkages and culture relationship between two states. Whereas Pakistan and China, both societies are processing two entirely diverse socio cultural and religious setup. Therefore, cultural harmony is prerequisite for the process of regional integration between Beijing and Islamabad.And it will not be wrong here to say that China is committed to promote people-to-people bonds and cooperation under its cooperative priorities at its earliest in C-PEC.
For the cultural integration, some efforts of both governments are as follow. The first effort has been done by the Chinese government in establishing the Confucius Institutes. In April 2005, Confucius Institute was founded by the office of Chinese Language Council International Hanban. The year 2005 remained significant in regard to Pakistan. The first Confucius Institute in Pakistan which is also first of Islamic World, has been constructed in National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad, with the name of Confucius Institute of Islamabad (CII). Till now, ithas been ranked the best in the world.
In 2016, another effort by the Chinese embassy is the establishment of the “Sangam (means conflux of rivers) Club” by Ex Ambassador to Pakistan H.E. Sun Weidong. It is a new platform for the Pakistani friends.
Moreover, China Radio International (CRI) is an important tool of communication. It is state owned international broadcaster established in 1941 has comprehend itself as an effective communicator. Today, CRI broadcasts 392 hours of programming a day in thirty-eight languages from twenty-seven overseas bureaus. 29th January 2019, CRI celebrated its 5thanniversary of the establishment celebrated in Pak-China Friendship Center.
In addition to this, to eliminate the barriers of language the government of Pakistan wants to publish a comprehensive dictionary in Urdu- Chinese language. Currently, a lot of writers has personally published dictionaries just to create harmony and understanding with the Chinese language.
Cultural diplomacy is an important tool of soft Power. 7th October 2017, the CRI radio news elaborated that Pakistan television (PTV) will telecast Chinese drama dubbed in Urdu language from November 2017. Other than this, around 200 Chinese movies, dramas and documentaries have been translated in Urdu language and will be telecasted soon.
Likewise, different programs and schemes have been established for the people to people contact. China Scholarship Council (CSC), entrusted by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China (MOE), is responsible for the enrollment and the administration of Chinese Government Scholarship programs. All scholarships are planned to create with the objective of acting as a culture bridge between the Beijing and Pakistan.
CPEC benefits both countries national interest but this cannot be achieved without consensus among major political parties. Track I and Track II diplomats have to play vital role to understand economic, political and cultural aspects of CPEC otherwise precise will be wasted.
Media apart from entertainment, it is an effective tool of shaping opinion of the youth. The role of media cannot be ignored in the age of technology. Knowledge or introduction of any cultural activity between Islamabad and Beijing should be transmitted in a positive manner but indicating the darker and positive sides of both cultures.
The level of interaction which is likely to increase with Chinese under C-PEC, and by in competition with Chinese, Pakistani would also adopt their culture.Cultural interaction between China and Pakistan should be at equal level so that would not create the misconceptions among diverse cultures.
CPEC is ambitious and very high profile initiative and both governments writing hard for its success. Language should be learned by Pakistani so that they will get an edge in language over Chinese in learning Urdu. The foreign policy makers, strategist and statesmen of Pakistan should consider cultural diplomacy as an effective tool and should use it in a perfect way.
The questionsarises here, that do Chinese people show interest in our Culture value? Is this cultural engagement two way process? Does Chinese transmit on their National TV Pakistani dramas? We take pride in airing their culture content but does it happens otherwise? These are some of the questions which would lead me and readers to think more about the culture integration under CPEC.