People are seen in downtown Nicosia, Cyprus on May 10, 2021 (XINHUA)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on November 30 spoke highly of the development of China-Cyprus relations in the past 50 years, and jointly decided to upgrade the China-Cyprus relationship to a strategic partnership.
The two heads of state made the decision during a phone conversation ahead of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations.
Xi pointed out that since the establishment of diplomatic relations 50 years ago, the two countries have successfully set an example of friendly relations between large and small countries.
Politically, the two countries firmly support each other's core interests and major concerns, and are friends of mutual trust, Xi said, adding that economically, the two countries have achieved fruitful cooperation in such fields as energy and telecommunications, and are partners in the joint construction of the Belt and Road.
Education, tourism as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation between the two countries have also become increasingly close, Xi said.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Xi said, the two sides have supported each other and stuck together through thick and thin, and the strategic nature of China-Cyprus relations has grown increasingly prominent.
Noting that China and Cyprus formally announce the establishment of their strategic partnership on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic ties, Xi said it is a political decision made by the two countries in line with the trend of the times, which will inject strong impetus into the future development of bilateral relations.
In the phone call, Xi put forward a four-point proposal on the development of China-Cyprus ties at a new starting point.
Firstly, the two sides should be committed to treating each other as equals, respect each other's social system and development path independently chosen by their peoples, and respect each other's core interests and major concerns, Xi said.
Secondly, the two sides should push for deeper and more concrete mutually beneficial cooperation, and deepen cooperation in the joint construction of the Belt and Road, he added.
The Chinese side, Xi said, is glad to see more high-quality Cypriot agricultural and food products in the Chinese market, encourages Chinese enterprises to take an active part in Cyprus' green economy and digital transformation as well as its post-pandemic recovery and development, and welcomes Cyprus's active participation in the Global Development Initiative.
The third is to maintain the right direction of the development of China-European Union (EU) relations.
Xi noted that China and the EU are comprehensive strategic partners and should stay committed to the general direction of cooperation.
The Chinese side stands ready to have a frank dialogue with the EU side and properly handle their differences, Xi said, expressing his hope that Cyprus can call on the EU to work with China to ensure a healthy and stable development of China-EU relations along the correct track.
The fourth point is to advocate a fair and reasonable international order.
Xi said democracy is a common value of all mankind, adding that democracy exists not just in only one form or has just one standard, and that no country should be allowed to monopolize the interpretation of democracy and then impose it on others.
China is willing to work with the international community, including Cyprus, to safeguard fairness and justice, and promote the democratization of international relations, so that people of all countries can truly enjoy broader and more substantial rights and freedoms, Xi added.
People wearing face masks walk on a street during the COVID-19 pandemic in Nicosia, Cyprus on February 8, 2021 (XINHUA)
For his part, Anastasiades said that since establishing diplomatic ties 50 years ago, the two sides have always understood and supported each other, and their cooperation in political, economic and social areas has kept deepening and achieved positive results.
China is a vital partner and friend of Cyprus, he said, adding that he is glad that after the phone conversation, the two sides will issue a joint statement to officially announce the establishment of the Cyprus-China strategic partnership, which is of milestone significance to bilateral relations.
Cyprus firmly adheres to the one-China policy, and firmly supports China's positions on issues concerning its core interests, he said.
He added that his country stands ready to work with China to strengthen high-level exchanges, and step up cooperation in trade, investment, culture, tourism and other areas within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, so as to push for better development of Cyprus-China relations.
Cyprus appreciates China's impartiality in international affairs and is willing to strengthen multilateral communication and coordination with China, he said, adding that Cyprus is ready to actively promote dialogue and cooperation between the EU and China.
After the phone conversation, the two sides issued a joint statement on the establishment of the strategic partnership between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Cyprus.