YANG MEINI/FOR CHINA DAILY
The Belt and Road Initiative has been well received in Cyprus thanks to the tangible and intangible benefits it has brought to the country
The Republic of Cyprus is an island nation strategically located in the Eastern Mediterranean at the crossroad of three continents and close to the trade routes linking Western Europe with the Middle East, Africa and the Far East.
Despite its small size and small populace, Cyprus is recognized as one of the topmost shipping hubs in Europe. In fact, the shipping history in Cyprus goes back thousands of years. At present, Cyprus is among the largest and most prominent ship management centers both in the European Union and the world. It has the third-largest merchant fleet in Europe and the 11th largest globally.
In light of these developments, China and Cyprus have expanded their traditionally exceptional political, economic, trade and cultural relations. It is worth noting that in November 2021, a month ahead of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, President Xi Jinping and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades jointly decided to upgrade the China-Cyprus relationship to a strategic partnership. Such a partnership corresponds, among other matters, to President Xi's thought on building "a community with a shared future for mankind".
Within this framework, the Belt and Road Initiative brings China and Cyprus closer, giving Beijing a new role in the Mediterranean region, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean area. In the meantime, Cyprus constitutes a stop on China's 21st Century Maritime Silk Road that connects the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea through the Gulf of Suez.
Overall, Cyprus further boosts the throughput capacity of China's Belt and Road land-sea link with Europe. As China's economy and political influence are making it play a protagonist's role in the 21st century, Cyprus' response to President Xi's multidimensional Belt and Road Initiative has become more solid and openhearted.
China's aim to build new trade links with the Eurasia-Africa, Balkan and Black Sea regions and enhance ties with the European market is entirely aligned with Cyprus' hub location.
The Digital Silk Road, part of the Belt and Road Initiative, has become a significant pillar in the overall strategic partnership between China and Cyprus. Within this framework, Huawei undertakes the maintenance and technical support of Cyprus' 4G and 5G communication networks, thus affecting positively the development of the internet industry in Cyprus in many ways. And in view of the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Digital Economy College jointly established in 2021 by China's Minjiang University and the European University Cyprus, is a remarkable achievement.
China has also linked the Belt and Road Initiative with Cyprus in terms of a Health Silk Road and through the respective education sectors of the two countries.
The Belt and Road Initiative is recognized in Cyprus and the rest of Europe as a public good, demonstrating that China is more capable than ever before of creating solid, high-quality outcomes. Cyprus is embracing more opportunities and better prospects.
China was Cyprus' fifth-largest trading partner in 2021. In the five years from 2016 to 2020, Cyprus' total exports to China increased by 102 percent. In 2020, the total trade in goods between China and Cyprus reached 537 million euros ($561 million) and Cyprus imported 450 million euros ($470 million) from China, up 20.3 percent from 2019.
The Belt and Road Initiative generates tangible and intangible outcomes pertinent to innovative, harmonized, green, open, high-quality and mutually shared developments, which consequently protect and maintain peace and promote people's well-being in the new post-COVID-19 era.
For Cyprus, Beijing's policies and initiatives are well perceived and noted as political, economic and cultural world models for consolidating multilateralism, peacekeeping, mutual development and harmony between humanity and nature. Since its debut almost nine years ago, the Belt and Road Initiative has been well received in Cyprus through active involvement with a considerable number of new cooperative projects. The tangible and intangible connectivity values of these projects inject a new vigor into the island's socio-economic development by continuously deepening both the connectivity with Cyprus and the European Union.
The author is former rector of European University Cyprus and ordinary member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
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