|'Culture, economy bolster China-Jordan ties'|
By Mohammad Ghazal
AMMAN - Spending a night in a bedouin tent while having tea and listening to the rababa was a dream come true for Chinese Ambassador to Jordan Yu Hongyang.
Over the past 22 months, the ambassador said he has grown fond of Jordanian culture and tourist sites such as Petra, the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum.
“Jordan is very rich in culture. I like the bedouin culture because it is very interesting. I like their music too. The desert amazes me,” the ambassador said in an interview with The Jordan Times last week.
He stressed that when travelling across the Kingdom to discuss Sino-Jordanian ties, he is “warmly received” in the badia.
The 11th Chinese ambassador to Jordan since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1977, Yu assumed his post in Amman in October 2008 and said the Kingdom now “feels like home”.
“It is easy to work here. People, whether citizens or officials, are very kind. Life is easyة the weather in Jordan is good at all times and my wife and I have made several friends,” the Chinese envoy said, adding that he has enjoyed learning Jordanian culture and attending traditional weddings.
Stressing that there is room for improvement, the diplomat said he is working to bolster bilateral ties in all fields.
Over the last three decades, there has been a steady development in bilateral relations in the fields of politics, economy and tourism, he said, noting that “Sino-Jordanian ties are better now than any other time in history”.
In 2009, bilateral trade reached $2.8 billion, a 6.6 per cent increase from the previous year.
Currently, China is Jordan’s second largest trade partner and second largest source of imports, according to the ambassador, who added that China mainly exports textiles and electromechanical products to Jordan.
In recent years, China started exporting more high-tech products and automobiles and importing potash and fertilisers from the Kingdom.
Chinese investments in Jordan amount to $100 million and are in the fields of clothing, machinery and trade, according to the ambassador.
Recently, Chongqing Minmetal and Machinery Import and Export Co. signed a memorandum of understanding with Jordan Abyad Fertilisers and Chemicals Company to launch a joint venture for the production of fertilisers and chemicals at an estimated cost of $260 million.
“Jordan, which is the oasis of peace in the Middle East, possesses a favourable investment and trade climate and has great potential for further development,” Yu said, adding that the Chinese government actively encourages companies to invest in Jordan.
There is also “huge potential” in the tourism sector since the government facilitated visa procedures for Chinese visitors last year, he said, adding that Jordan can attract more Chinese tourists through better promotion of the Kingdom’s natural and historical sites.
To boost the number of tourists from China, there is also a need for tour guides who speak Chinese, the diplomat said, adding plans are in place for future cooperation in this regard with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Chinese travel agencies began to organise travel groups to Jordan in December 2004, according to the embassy.
Since then, the number of Chinese tourists to Jordan has increased each year, from 7,818 in 2006 to 12,693 in 2009.
In the first quarter of 2010, some 3,874 Chinese tourists travelled to Jordan, a 42.2 per cent increase from the same period last year.
According to the embassy’s statistics, 47.6 million Chinese travelled abroad on holiday in 2009, spending $42 billion in foreign destinations.
Despite of the closeness of Jordanian-Chinese ties, the ambassador believes there is still much left to be done.
“I have not reached my target yet to further improve tiesة and I hope many Chinese travellers will come and visit this beautiful country,” he said.
25 July 2010