Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Historical Similarities between two Afghan-Chinese Provinces: Bamyan and Sichuan

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Historical Similarities between two  Afghan-Chinese Provinces: Bamyan and Sichuan

The reform and opening-up unleashed by the paramount leader of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Deng Xiaoping four decades ago have borne the desired result as Chinese nation reap the fruit of market economy now. Opening China to foreign investment and global market changed it into one of the fastest-growing economies and second world’s economy.
In addition to constructing an economically strong society, the Communist Party of China (CPC), which has won the hearts and souls of the Chinese mainly in the past four decades, strengthened the spirit of brotherhood and peaceful coexistence among all ethnic and religious groups following 1978. That is to say, the state has paved the ground for all individuals to exercise their rights and liberties without any discrimination on the basis of their caste, color or creed. Constitutionally, “The state protects normal religious activities” and deems the “freedom” and “dignity” of the public “inviolable”.  Advocating the principle of “non-discrimination” on the basis of one’s gender, the Chinese Constitution states in article 48, “Women in the People’s Republic of China enjoy equal rights with men in all spheres of life, in political, economic, cultural, social and family life.” To put it succinctly, safeguarding people’s fundamental rights – i.e. their rights to life, liberty and property – and inherent dignity; eliminating sexual, ethnic and religious discrimination; and paving the ground for harmony, peace and prosperity are the fruit of post-1978 constitution.
Few days back, I visited Deng Xiaoping’s hometown Sichuan province, which is strong economically and rich culturally. The Giant Buddha and Mount Emei Temple in Deng’s birthplace indicates two facts: First, China has a highly rich culture and historical monuments and pays great respect to them. Annually, hundreds of millions of tourists visit China in general and Sichuan province in particular since China supports opening-up. Second, people exercise tolerance towards one another and there are thousands of mosques, temples, churches across China. That is, people of all faith exercise their religious tenets freely and seek to respect the beliefs and faith of one another and treat one another with dignity. Mount Emei and Giant Buddha are the two great heritage of China with long history located in the China’s city of Leshan, which is known the city of culture and the capital of fine food as it is said that “the best flavor of Sichuan cuisine is in Leshan”. It is said that the first Buddhist temple in China was built on the summit of Mount Emei. Buddhist culture is said to be introduced into Leshan two thousand years ago through the Southern Silk Road. Subsequently, large-scale temple complexes were founded there. The highly beautiful scenery of Leshan city will catch the eye of anyone. Meanwhile, this city also has historical background in terms of sport and, therefore, the torch of the Beijing Olympic Games was relayed at the foot of Mount Emei on 4 August 2008.
To view the Giant Buddha, which is the largest Buddha statue in the world, in the hometown of the great Chinese reform and opening-up champion, one will think that this province of China has a strong historical tie with Afghan province of Bamyan, which lies on the Silk Road and had two Buddha statues – “Solsol” measured 53 meters and “Shahmama” 35 meters – in its heart for thousands of years. Bamyan city was also a religious site for many centuries and the site was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
However, the Buddha statues were destroyed by the Taliban in March 2001, which drew strong condemnation from around the world, including China. Despite being destroyed, this cultural site has not missed its historical background. In other words, with the Taliban’s destruction, the debris in this site indicates two facts: First, Bamyan was a highly cultural site, similar to Sichuan province of China, lying on the Silk Road. Second, the debris of Buddha statues shows the radical ideology and ugly face of the Taliban to the world.
To cut the long story short, there are close similarities between Chinese province of Sichuan and Afghan province of Bamyan. It is hoped that Afghan and Chinese officials bring these two provinces to the state of sisterhood and make Bamyan the sister city of Sichuan, especially under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project. Bamyan is one of the most secure provinces of Afghanistan with long history similar to Sichuan and deserves to be called the sister city of Deng Xiaoping’s hometown.
It is worth mentioning that Afghanistan also supports opening-up and its door is open to foreign investment the same as China. It is hoped that the two countries enhances their trade and transit, cultural interaction and people-to-people exchanges so as to build trust, advocate friendly relations and the idea of peaceful coexistence and learn more about the cultural values of each other. In short, it will be highly appreciated if China shares the fruit of its reform and opening-up with its historical neighbor Afghanistan.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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