"What is sorely needed between India and China is a meeting of minds. If we can give this process a fillip during the Year of Friendly Exchanges, a good beginning would have been made," the Vice President said.

India and China must throw their doors wide open for people—to—people contacts as a “meeting of minds” would help build solid and friendly bilateral ties, Vice President Hamid Ansari has said.

“We are neighbours. We are strategic partners. We are ancient civilisations. Historically, there was much that bound us together,” Ansari said while launching the ‘India China Year of Friendly Exchanges’ here on Tuesday night along with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi.

The old Silk Route, which connected the two countries many centuries ago, led not merely to the exchange of goods and commodities but also to a flourishing inter-change of ideas, values and philosophies, he said.

“In the 21st Century, what is sorely needed between India and China is a meeting of minds. If we can give this process a fillip during the Year of Friendly Exchanges, a good beginning would have been made,” Ansari said.

He said the introduction of Chinese as a language in middle schools in India, was an innovative idea. He said 22 Chinese teachers have arrived in India recently to teach at select CBSE schools across the country.

“This is an excellent starting point,” he said.

“India and China need to throw their doors wide open for the peoples of our nations to get together, to visit one another and to learn from each other. This would go a long way in promoting better understanding between our peoples and in building a solid, friendly and cooperative relationship between our two countries,” Ansari said.

Ansari said he was confident that the various programmes undertaken during the Year of Friendly Exchanges will help forge a closer and stronger bilateral relationship.

He said India plans to highlight Indian culture in China through a programme entitled ‘Glimpses of India’ during the year.

Yang, a former Foreign Minister, said China—India friendship dates back to ancient times and over the course of millennia, the two ancient civilisations have benefited each other and added to their respective lustre, thus jointly creating a “fascinating history of glory and proudness".