Foreign diplomats expect prosperous year for trade, tourism
Foreign consulates in Shanghai will organize scores of events in the city this year to boost cultural and business exchanges.
More than 80 diplomats from 51 local consulates were invited to visit the Lantern Festival Fair at the landmark Yuyuan Garden Malls in Huangpu District on Monday.
They watched traditional Chinese dances, acrobatics and Yueju Opera at the Beaufort Terrace and braved the drizzle to watch the lantern fair on the iconic Zigzag Bridge.
"I'm sure this year will be a very busy year for business exchanges and a lot of business missions will come to Shanghai and other parts of China in the coming months," said Chua Teng Hoe, the Consul General of Singapore in Shanghai.
Chua said China is Singapore's biggest trading partner, while Singapore is one of the leading investors in China.
As one of the key events in Shanghai this year, the consulate will organize an exhibition on the culture of Peranakan, which refers to descendants of southern Chinese in the Malay Archipelago.
"We can't wait for Chinese people to come to South Africa," said Tsipa Phuti Joyce, the South African Consul General in Shanghai. About 100,000 Chinese tourists traveled to South Africa and spent about 2.4 billion yuan (US$353 million) before the COVID-19 outbreak in 2019, she noted.
South Africa has launched a B2B online platform on WeChat for Chinese tourism operators to cooperate with their peers in South Africa, Joyce added.
The country also plans to expand its exports to China through the China International Import Expo (CIIE) and other trade events. It will mainly promote South African pet food, soybeans and beef in the Chinese market.
"The lantern fair brings us a lot of festive vibes suggesting that the Year of the Rabbit will be a very good year," according to Yok Yee Chan, the Consul General of Fiji in Shanghai.
An increasing number of Fijian traders will come to Shanghai this year, while more Chinese tourists are welcome to visit Fiji, which was listed among the 20 favorite tourism destinations for group travel in China, Chan said.
The Oceania country aims to further promote its specialties, such as Fijian water, organic cosmetics and seafood products, in the Chinese market.
Monday's event was jointly hosted by the Foreign Affairs Office of the Shanghai government and the Huangpu District government. It was organized by Fosun International and Yuyuan Tourist Mart (Group) Co.
Huangpu is the hot spot for international exchanges in Shanghai, Gao Yun, the Party secretary of the district, told the foreign guests.
The district is home to nearly 3,000 overseas companies and 60 multinational headquarters. It aims to create the best business environment for overseas investors, Gao added.
This year's lantern fair at the Yuyuan malls is one of the city's main attractions to usher in the Chinese Lunar New Year.
The theme "Adventure of Mountains and Seas" was inspired by the ancient literature "Shan Hai Jing" (Classic of Mountains and Seas).
Embellishments on the lanterns feature mythical creatures from the book, such as dragon, phoenix and deer. Visitors can use their mobile phones to interact with lanterns embedded with augmented reality technology.