Buddhism will draw Indian tourists to China: envoy

by Indrani Dutta, The Hindu, June 14 2009

KOLKATA, India -- Lord Buddha may have been born in Nepal and attained Nirvana in India, but it is China which has the largest number of World Heritage Sites of Buddhism, says Mao Siwei, Consul-General of China in Kolkata.

He said here recently that Buddhism was an important part of Chinese culture and there were six Buddhist monuments in the country. “More and more people from China will visit India to have a better understanding of why and how the great religion originated from this sacred land, a place the ancient Chinese referred to as the Western Heaven.” More and more Indians would visit China for a better understanding of the great contribution Indians and Chinese together made for the spread of Buddhism throughout the world, he felt.

Mr Mao, who was speaking on the topic ‘Why visit China,’ said the first reason for Indians would be to see an old civilisation, which was quite different from that of India. Since ancient times India had excelled in stone culture revolving round temples, while China was rich in tomb culture, which resulted in works like the terracotta warriors (China’s First Emperor’s army). This gave China the privilege of having the largest underground museum in the world.

In India, priests were the masters managing affairs between god and humanity; in China most of the magnificent ancient structures were palaces where emperors and kings were masters managing the affairs between the state and citizens.

Mr. Mao noted that Indian restaurants were booming in China. There were a plethora of them in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and many other cities.

He said China was a good shopping destination. He advised tourists shopping in the country to note the price tag and then judge the so-called issue of Chinese dumping goods on India.