Notwithstanding the frequent confrontation between India and China over disputed border area here, dream China is fast picking up in Kashmir.
Kashmir University's (KU) top council on academics after assessing the potential of growing China and its market domination has, for the first time, decided to teach Chinese at the Institute of Foreign Language (IFL).
"We see a great potential for students in learning Chinese language. China is an emerging power," IFL director Prof Bashir Ahmad told the Hindustan Times.
A trend, which started in the past one decade only, saw dozens of students and businessmen travelling to China from Kashmir - for studies as well as business.
The advertisements of Chinese universities offering medical courses flood local newspapers every year. "China is the second biggest economy. Across the globe, the trend to learn Chinese language is picking up. People use their summer vacations to learn the language," said Suhail Masoodi, a research scholar at China Agriculture University, Beijing.
Masoodi, who has been travelling to China for the past five years now, is of opinion that the country is fast becoming an inevitable power.
"Kashmir has unique advantage of bordering China. It is our neighbour unlike the US. We have to deal with it now and then, for studies or market. Every year students of Kashmir flock to China now," said Masoodi.
From mats to beads to bathroom sanitary ware, Chinese penetration in Kashmir is as much as in any other part of the country. However, interest to engage China for academics is also witnessing a phenomenal flip in Kashmir.
"We get containers of tiles, bathroom fittings, furniture etc from China. The country provides a rare option of range in price and material," said Niyaz Punjabi, who is keen to learn Chinese after failing to strike better deals in Beijing because of the communication gap.
"Language is an issue for Kashmiri businessmen. It is mostly signs we converse in. It's difficult to place order for even food in a Chinese restaurant," said Punjabi.
Traditionally, Kashmir had a road link with China, widely known as Silk Route. It was a buzzing trade route and a cauldron of cultural convergences. Traders would travel from Ladakh to Xingjian to Central Asia prior to 1947.
Kashmir, however, remained out of bounds from this traditional route because of simmering tensions with Pakistan and China post Partition.