Shanghai, Guangzhou and giant tortoises – Seychelles diplomacy in China explores new frontiers
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles has announced that it has opened a Consulate General in the Chinese city of Shanghai.
The Indian Ocean archipelago’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the news in a press statement, saying the move was an indication of the excellent relations between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the group of 115 tropical islands off the coast of East Africa.
In addition to the new consulate general office, a pair of giant Aldabra tortoises from the Seychelles was presented to Guangzhou Zoo on loan as a symbol of longstanding friendship between the two nations.
|Seychelles giant tortoises photographed on Curieuse island (Nina Bogosavljev, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Seychelles’ Foreign Affairs Minister, Jean Paul Adam, who was present at both events, is currently on a working visit to several Asian countries.
The opening ceremony of the Consulate General office in Shanghai was presided over by Adam, who recalled that at the time of the opening of the Seychelles embassy in Beijing in 2007, Chinese visitor arrivals to Seychelles only accounted for 1,000 people.
Last month, the Seychelles welcomed its 10,000th Chinese visitor for 2014, showing the massive expansion of the Chinese tourism market to Seychelles in a relatively short time. Today Seychelles is a popular tourist and honeymoon destination for Chinese visitors, who greatly appreciate the natural beauty of the pristine islands.
Adam also pointed out that the number of Seychellois travelling to Shanghai, the commercial capital of China, had increased dramatically since the governments of Seychelles and China implemented a visa waiver agreement between the two countries for visitors travelling for business or pleasure.
“Seychelles is not only a magnificent and totally safe tourist destination, among the most beautiful in the world, but also a peaceful, stable and competitive access gate to Africa and its huge market and economic resources,” said the Foreign Affairs Minister.
In addition to the potential for Seychelles to attract more tourists from Shanghai, the two countries’ Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) will be instrumental to develop Seychelles’ strategy to promote its thriving international financial services industry to businesses in the financial powerhouse of the world’s fastest-growing economy.
Giant tortoises in Guangzhou
In 2010, after taking part in the Shanghai World Expo, Seychelles donated a pair of giant tortoises to the Shanghai Zoo. The giant creatures, which are endemic to the Seychelles and average between 120 and 150 kilograms in weight, may be heavy and ponderous creatures, but their ability to live for up to 200 years is taken as a symbol of long-standing commitment and friendship.
This week, Adam travelled to the southern Chinese province of Guangzhou to officially present another pair of giant tortoises to the Guangzhou Zoo, accompanied by a number of Seychellois students studying at various institutions in the province.
At the handing-over ceremony, he mentioned the pivotal role that Chinese people, particularly those from Guangzhou – have played in the history of Seychelles – first as migrant merchants to the islands 150 years ago and then playing a pivotal role in the socio-economic development of Seychelles since the islands gained independence in 1976.
|Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Paul Adam (second from left) pictured with a group of Seychellois students studying in Guangzhou and its surrounding area. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) Photo License: CC-BY|
On to Cambodia
From China, the foreign minister will be moving on to Cambodia between 15 and 17 October, according to a press statement from the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Minister Adam is expected to hold bilateral meetings with the acting minister of the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation as well as other state officials for tourism and agriculture.
It is reported that six documents will be signed during the visit to commence collaboration between Seychelles and Cambodia in politics, investment promotion, tourism, agriculture and air services.