Ambassador a.h., Former ambassador to the PR of China.
CYPRUS – CHINA RELATIONS
The People’s Republic of China, the Middle Kingdom, was kept outside the family of nations since its establishment in 1949 and until 1971. The country’s isolation was due to the policy of the United States of America and its allies, out of fear for the communist regime of China.
However, as early as October 1967, the Nixon Administration realized that excluding a country of the magnitude of China from America’s diplomatic options did not serve the national interests of the United States and the global balance of power.
Nixon’s view that America could not afford to leave China forever outside the international community opened the road for the Middle Kingdom to join the United Nations Organization and to hold a seat at the Security Council as a permanent member. Chine was, thus, led into a multipolar world.
To-day, the People’s Republic of China, a country with a five-thousand-year-old civilization and with a population of nearly 1.4 billion, has become the world’s second largest economy and second largest recipient of foreign direct investment. A remarkable progress was also made in information and technology and in spatial science.
Since the implementation of reforms and of the policy of opening up to the outside world, China is moving fast towards joining the club of developed countries while the Chinese people’s lives have been improved.
In urban and rural areas, though, some seventy million people still live in poverty and rely on allowances from the Government.
The Chinese leaders adhering to the policy of socialism with Chinese characteristics, are promoting the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation; the dream that aims at pursuing progress and development of China, rejuvenation of the nation and prosperity of the Chinese people through reforms and innovation.
The Chinese endeavor sets a glaring example for Cyprus to follow suit and proceed with the implementation of reforms and innovation.
In an attempt to boost cooperation between Asia and Europe, between the East and the West, the visionary president of China, Xi Jinping launched a few years ago his Initiative entitled the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road – the Belt and Road Initiative – aiming at reviving the ancient Silk Road. His initiative was welcomed by a great number of countries and international organizations.
Consequently, in 2017 a Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was established with the participation of over one hundred countries and organizations, to promote and implement the ambitious project.
The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Nicos Anastasiades participated in the Belt and Road forum in April 2019 and a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the framework of the Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road was signed.
In spite of the geographical distance and the difference in size, the Republic of Cyprus and the People’s Republic of China established and maintain close and friendly relations since 1971.
In recent years the bilateral relations have been more enhanced. There is, however, room for further strengthening and deepening the relations in all fields. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the framework of the Belt and Road initiative opens new avenues for Cyprus and China to boost their cooperation in the areas of energy, tourism industry, high technology, telecommunications and trade.
More Chinese private companies should be invited to invest in Cyprus. The Cyprus investment policy is liberal and allows 100% foreign participation in many sectors. The Chinese companies can benefit from a series of incentives by using Cyprus as a base for their activities. Moreover, Cyprus membership to the European Union turns the country into a gate to the European markets for Chinese goods.
It is true that the long distance between Cyprus and China and the low level of infrastructure connectivity make easy flow of goods and economic factors difficult and negatively affect Cyprus exports. In order to facilitate the infrastructure connectivity, Cyprus and China should cooperate towards finding ways and means within the framework of the Initiative to solve this impediment.
By solving this problem tourism will also be benefited. Chinese people love travelling. Following the opening up to the world and the improvement of the standard of living of Chinese people, thousands of them visit foreign countries, always with a camera in hand, and they enjoy discovering the history and culture of the places they travel to.
Cyprus, with its long history and culture has over the years developed the tourist industry with high standards and modern tourist accommodation infrastructure. Cyprus turned into a “mosaic of nature and culture, a whole magical world concentrated in a small, warm and traditional hospitable island in the Mediterranean at the crossroads of the three continents”.
Furthermore, Cooperation in the fields of education and culture is considered of paramount importance. Both Cyprus and China are proud of their historic past and rich cultural heritage. Cultural exchanges between the two countries promote understanding and friendship and should be intensified when the economic and other conditions will permit it.
The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Education and Cultural Cooperation every two years offers the framework for the realization of these exchanges. It is worth mentioning here that China intends to establish a Cultural Centre in Cyprus.
In view of the fast technological and scientific development higher education has an important role to play in the economic and societal development by offering knowledgeable and competent professionals. It is, thus, up to the academic community in Cyprus and in China to become more active in promoting bilateral, transnational exchanges and synergies between universities in both countries.
Cyprus needs to learn from the expertise of the Chinese scientists in the domain of health care and high tech.
While the political relations between Cyprus and China are excellent and were reconfirmed as such during the meeting of President Anastasiades and President Xi Jinping last year in Beijing, the contacts between them should increase at all levels of the government.
The statement by President Xi that China considers Cyprus a strategic partner, a reliable partner and a good friend of China, apart from satisfaction and appreciation, creates an obligation on Cyprus to exert every effort in order to maintain and further strengthen their partnership.
Cyprus adheres to the policy of “one China” with Taiwan as part and parcel of mainland China. And Beijing appreciates Cyprus’ stance.
China on the other hand supports the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus – a “one Cyprus”. It also supports the positions of Nicosia when the question of Cyprus is raised before the Security Council of the United Nations.
“China now has an impact on the world that is even more comprehensive, profound and long-lasting, and the world is paying even greater attention to China”. This should be taken into consideration.
President Xi Jinping (2018) The Governance of China. 2nd edition. Beijing.
Henry Kissinger (1994) Diplomacy. New York.
Chen Yue & Pu Ping (2017) Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind. 1st edition. Beijing.
Chinese State Council Information Office. China and the World in the New Era.