Crossroads of West and East
Belt and Road culture and tourism forum at Shanghai Book Fair
There are two primary ways to gain knowledge: reading and travel. While the former allows people to draw experiences based on the accumulation of our forefathers; the latter allows people to get firsthand experience themselves. During the recent Shanghai Book Fair, four consuls from Belt and Road countries shared their thoughts on reading and traveling.
Sri Lanka is an island country surround by the Indian Ocean. In the past five years it was ranked as one the top 10 travel destinations, according to Lakshitha Ratnayake, Consul General of Sri Lanka in Shanghai, as he introduced his country to the audience.
Though Sri Lanka is most famous for its white beaches, it is an ecologically diversified country with over 6,000 elephants, the biggest leopards, a herbal medicine industry and eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
He also suggests Chinese tourists integrate a visit to their tea plantations and jewel centers. Sri Lanka has a rich tea culture, which are 99 percent black tea. Visitors can spend a night at the beautiful plantations, which are ideal for honeymoons, he said.
There is also an abundance of jewel resources in Sri Lanka, specially sapphires and rubies. To many Sri Lankan natives, these jewels possess the power to help one find love and longevity, he added.
Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates is a destination of diverse landscapes, fantastic shopping, exceptional resorts and world-class events. With a mutual visa exemption between the UAE and China, UAE has seen a huge influx of Chinese tourists.
In 2017, the number of Chinese visiting the UAE exceed 1 million while transit passengers exceed 3.5 million, said Faizah Al Blooshi, consul from the United Arab Emirates Consulate General in Shanghai.
The government of the UAE also initiated a Youth Ambassador Program, which has sent over 100 UAE youth leaders to learn Putonghua in China while experiencing Chinese culture, she added.
Here I come, Constantinople
Nearly 10,000 kilometers away from Shanghai, Istanbul is a city covering both Asian and European geography, history and culture. Flights between Shanghai and Istanbul are operated daily. What makes it unique is its combination of history and modernity, said Sabri Tunc Angili, Consul General of Turkey in Shanghai.
Its historical sites are mainly in the European part of the city. Founded over 2,000 years ago and historically known as Constantinople, the city offers numerous historic sites left behind by different cultures.
These include Hagia Sophia, a former Greek Orthodox Christian church, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum; Sultan Ahmet Mosque (known as the blue mosque), a significant symbolic architecture neighboring the Hagia Sophia.
Not far away from these sites is the Topkapı Palace, once a residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans in the 15th century. Istanbul also boasts modern street blocks where luxury shopping malls attract droves of tourists. In Angili’s observation, Chinese have become regular customers at these malls.
Ariel Braverman, deputy Consul General of Israel in Shanghai, said Israeli culture is like a huge puzzle which interweaves many cultures from all over the world.
Every Israeli book is a small beautiful piece of the puzzle based on the great story of modern Israel, where one can find touches of culture and history, according to Braverman. Approaching the end of his speech, he warmly invited Chinese tourists to Israel.
From top left: Lakshitha Ratnayake, Consul General of Sri Lanka in Shanghai; Faizah Al Blooshi, consul from the United Arab Emirates Consulate General in Shanghai; Sabri Tunc Angili, Consul General of Turkey in Shanghai; Ariel Braverman, deputy Consul General of Israel in Shanghai; Audience at the event