Tourism a key pillar for Sino-US re­la­tions

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEN WEIHUA in Wash­ing­ton chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Top Chi­nese and US lead­ers have high hopes for grow­ing bi­lat­eral re­la­tions be­tween the two na­tions by boost­ing twoway tourism.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama sent their con­grat­u­la­tions to par­tic­i­pants of the clos­ing cer­e­mony of the 2016 China-US Tourism Year on Sun­day evening at the Warner Theatre in Wash­ing­ton.

Xi re­called the an­nounce­ment that he and Obama made in Septem­ber 2015 to hold the China-US Tourism Year, say­ing the de­ci­sion was made “to pro­mote the build­ing of a new model of ma­jor coun­try re­la­tion­ship, push­ing for­ward prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion, and en­hanc­ing peo­ple-to-peo­ple friend­ship be­tween our two coun­tries”.

He said the tourism year has been marked with col­or­ful and fruit­ful events, which helped to ex­pand peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes and prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion in var­i­ous ar­eas, and in­ject new im­pe­tus into China-US re­la­tions.

“The growth of China-US re­la­tions re­quires the par­tic­i­pa­tion and sup­port of our peo­ples. I hope the two sides will build on the suc­cess of the China-US Tourism Year to sus­tain the mo­men­tum of peo­ple-to-peo­ple and cul­tural ex­changes, en­hance mu­tual un­der­stand­ing and friend­ship be­tween our two peo­ples, and re­in­force the so­cial foun­da­tion for the de­vel­op­ment of China-US re­la­tions,” Xi said in the let­ter, read by Vice-Premier Wang Yang, who led a Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion to at­tend the clos­ing cer­e­mony and the China-US Joint Com­mis­sion on Com­merce and Trade to be held in Wash­ing­ton this week.

In a let­ter read by US Sec­re­tary of Com­merce Penny Pritzker, Obama said the US-China Tourism Year has en­abled the Amer­i­can and Chi­nese peo­ples to ex­pe­ri­ence new cul­tures, ex­plore new places and get to know each other.

“A fu­ture of peace and pros­per­ity and friend­ship de­pends on our ef­forts to un­der­stand each other. That is why the United States will con­tinue to wel­come the Chi­nese peo­ple to our shores, whether to hike to our na­tional parks, dine in our vi­brant cities, or learn more about our rich his­tory. I also en­cour­age Amer­i­cans to dis­cover all China has to of­fer,” Obama said.

Xi and Obama just met on Satur­day in Lima, Peru, on the side­lines of the APEC Eco­nomic Lead­ers’ Meet­ing.

The 2016 China-US Tourism Year was an­nounced by Xi and Obama last Septem­ber dur­ing Xi’s state visit to the US. An open­ing cer­e­mony was held in Bei­jing in Fe­bru­ary this year.

In the first three quar­ters of this year, the num­ber of Chi­nese trav­el­ers to the US jumped by 14.7 per­cent over the same pe­riod last year while the num­ber of US trav­el­ers to China rose by 7.3 per­cent. To­tal num­ber of two-way Chi­nese and Amer­i­can trav­el­ers is ex­pected to ex­ceed 5 mil­lion this year. Last year, Chi­nese tourists made 2.59 mil­lion trips to the US, with to­tal spend­ing esti-mated at $30.1 bil­lion. This year, Chi­nese are ex­pected to make more than 3 mil­lion trips, creat-ing some 45,000 di­rect jobs and 230,000 in­di­rect jobs in the US.The vice-premier said Chi-na is will­ing to make con­cert-ed eff orts with the US side to fur­ther fa­cil­i­tate visa poli­cies and to pro­vide more conve-nient, com­fort­able and safe ser­vices to tourists.He also pledged to fur­ther open the tourism in­dus­try to for­eign in­vestors. “The China-US Tourism Year is draw­ing to a close, but the show of tour-ism co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries has just be­gun,” Wang said, ahead of an evening con­cert by the Philadel­phia Orches­tra and China’s Na­tional Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts Orches­tra.The two or­ches­tras have a close col­lab­o­ra­tion for many years. The Philadel­phia Orches-tra was the fi rst US orches­tra to visit China in 1973 at the in­vi­ta­tion of then-US pres­i­dent Richard Nixon, who made his his­toric trip to China a year ear­lier. Pritzker re­called her fi rst trip to China in 1984 when she visit-ed the Great Wall in Bei­jing and the Bund in Shang­hai. “Look-ing back, what I am most grate-ful for has been the op­por­tu­nity to see China then, so I could ap­pre­ci­ate what it is grow­ing to to­day,” said Pritzker, who has made many busi­ness and lei-sure trips to China since then. “I wit­nessed China’s in­cred-ible evo­lu­tion into one of the most re­mark­able and popu-lar tourist des­ti­na­tions in the world,” she said.

CHEN WEIHUA / CHINA DAILY

Vice-Premier Wang Yang speaks on Sun­day evening at the clos­ing cer­e­mony of the 2016 China-US Tourism Year held in the Warner Theatre in Wash­ing­ton.

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