A Conduit for Cultural exchange

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Junaid Ashraf

With the initiation of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the first flagship project under Chinese belt and the road initiative, the friendship of Pakistan and China has amplified to a new level. The world can hear the echoes of the relationship in a very loud and clear voice.

A lesser known yet an important aspect of Pak-China friendship is cultural exchanges, which includes cultural and cinematic collaborations, has started to make waves with Canadian born actor Kent S Leung making his debut in the movie “Chalay Thay Saath” and Chinese couple in Shan Foods new ad: The movie has received applause from viewers and Chinese lady won hearts in the ad by making Pakistani special biryani. The ad especially has gained popularity on social media with 3.3 million views in just 3 days. This shows that effective use of media can also play vital role in bringing the two nations closer.

The world has turned into global village. People, regions, and countries have become more interwoven and interdependent and it has become difficult to cut oneself from the interconnected dynamics. Cultural exchange enhances mutual understanding between people and societies. It also enriches lives by inspiring new forms of expression and providing fresh insight that broadens horizon. Cultural exchange and activities can yield a more powerful influence than military task forces or political delegations.

Cultural exchange is better understanding of other’s culture and enhancement of existing culture with the positive and healthier facets of other’s culture. Cultural exchange is essential in this modern age where prejudice and hate has increased, people need to understand each other in better ways in this age of globalization where any information flows from one continent to another by just a simple click. Differences need to be celebrated and respected.

Media is a tool that can be used very wisely like case of Pakistan-China collaboration in Shan Foods ad and in the movie Chalay Thay Saath. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy rightly said at the World Economic Forum meeting that, “Art creates empathy and brings people together; it’s a crucial part of creating a more inclusive world.”

Pak-China friendship has had a long run and is still going strong; both the countries have stood for each other through thick and thin. Cultural exchanges have not been the focus of attention but now the focus is also shifting on the people to people interaction and cultural exchange programs are also part of CPEC. This will make Pak-China relations holistic, people would get to know each other better and social cohesiveness between the two countries would increase. This will further strengthen bond of friendship and fraternity between the two countries. A continued relationship between Pakistan and China entails a mutual understanding of language, traditions and cultures, which can take place only through a robust people-to-people contact.

Pak-China collaboration on cultural aspects would not only strengthen the relationship but it will also provide an opportunity for Pakistan to portray its image in a better way to global audience. Casting of actors of different origins including Chinese in Pakistan’s entertainment industry sends clear signals that Pakistan is a country that accepts other cultures and has no problem in culture to culture exchanges.  Along with CPEC, cultural interactions between Pakistan and China would be beneficial for Pakistan to enhance its global image as it indicates policy of inclusion. CPEC is a big vote of confidence for Pakistan and it can be hoped that CPEC will bring in more fruits for Pakistan.

Collaboration on both the big and small screens further summits the slogan that Pak-China friendship is deeper than the oceans higher than the Himalayas and sweeter than the honey.