Chinese Ambassador to Cyprus Huang Xingyuan addresses a press conference at the Chinese Embassy in Nicosia May 18, 2017. China's Belt and Road Initiative can bring mutual benefits to China and Cyprus, Huang Xingyuan said on Thursday. (Xinhua/Zhang Zhang)
NICOSIA, May 18 (Xinhua) -- The Belt and Road Initiative can lead to mutual benefit for China and Cyprus, Chinese ambassador to Cyprus Huang Xingyuan said on Thursday.
"The initiative is about connecting China with Europe and Cyprus is at a strategic point between Asia, Europe and Africa. So it can play an important role in promoting this Initiative as it has a developed shipping sector and a lively services sector," he said.
"This is just an example of how the Belt and Road Initiative could bring benefits to the countries involved," he added.
Huang was speaking at a press conference attended by main Cypriot media, during which he presented the outcome of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing and also talked extensively about China-Cyprus relations in all sectors.
The Belt and Road Initiative was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 with an aim to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes. It comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
He said the two countries could be an example to other countries having developed excellent relations in the commercial, political and cultural sectors despite having different ideological and cultural backgrounds.
Answering a question about commercial relations,Huang said that the two-way commerce stands at about 600 million dollars, noting that this is not a desired point.
"There is room for improvement and my goal is to work to double the commercial exchanges by the end of my term in Cyprus," he said.
He added that Cyprus has many products which could be exported to China, making special mention of its wine which is known worldwide, and a local white cheese known as "halloumi", which Cyprus is promoting as a product with protected designation of origin in the European Union.
"And of course there are many opportunities for investment by Chinese entrepreneurs and also for tourism," the ambassador noted.
He further said that China can provide advanced systems for producing renewable energy that would increase the volume of trade. He mentioned solar panels, urging Cyprus to help within the European Union to solve existing problems.
Huang said Chinese people love Cyprus, its culture, even the fact that it is a place to fly a kite, but he conceded that visa requirements are an impediment for Chinese to visit Cyprus.
He added that the embassies of the two countries are working hard on ways to minimize this problem.
He further said that having direct flights between China and Cyprus would be a desirable development, but this requires enough passengers to fill the planes and also solving the visa issue.
Huang also spoke about direct contacts between peoples as an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative and announced a series of cultural events called "Heart to Heart" that will help bring together Chinese and Cypriots.
These include the first Chinese cinema festival, a seminar with the participation of politicians, academics and businessmen, a Chinese food festival and a Chinese Cultural Night.
The ambassador also said that political relations between China and Cyprus are excellent.
"China and Cyprus are faced with treats to their territorial integrity and this has brought the two countries closer together," he said, adding that the two countries share the same understanding on the need for peaceful solutions.
He spoke about the difficulties in current efforts to solve the long standing Cyprus problem that would end the partition of the island, and quoted a Chinese saying that "there are always difficulties before a good end".
Huang said he was confident that the people of Cyprus are prudent enough and its leaders are driven by the political will to overcome the present difficulties and find a solution of the basis of United Nations resolutions.
The ambassador added that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China will play a positive role to help find a solution and will support the efforts for reconstruction after the reunification of Cyprus.