M. Noyan Rona's Chinese Dream

By Zhang Xue
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, February 26, 2014
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M. Noyan Rona, chief representative of the Turkish Garanti Bank's Shanghai office. [China.org.cn]

"I have been pursuing my Chinese dream for 30 years," declared M. Noyan Rona at the International Dialogue on the Chinese Dream, held last December in Shanghai. In fluent Chinese, Rona, chief representative of the Turkish Garanti Bank's Shanghai office, at the forum related his 30-year-long tryst with China.

With a strong interest in history, Rona, then an accountant for a garage, in 1978 began to study Chinese at the Chinese Department of Ankara University. "Our Turkish ancestors once lived in northern China. I wanted to know more about that stretch of history," Rona explained. China's reform and opening-up drive had just kicked off after a long spell of isolation from the outside world. People knew little about China at the time. Many of his friends thought Rona had made a strange choice.

Yet it is this very strange choice that launched Rona's 30-year tryst with China. Upon obtaining a scholarship through his excellent academic performance, Rona came to China in 1983 and began to study Chinese at the Beijing Language Institute (now Beijing Language and Culture University). Three years later Rona obtained a Master's degree in history from Wuhan University, becoming the first Turkish citizen to obtain an MA in China.

Witness to China-Turkey Exchanges

"Since 1971, when China and Turkey established diplomatic relations, 43 years have passed. Throughout that span, I've lived in China for 30 years. So I've been witness to China-Turkey exchanges," said Rona. In the last three decades, dramatic changes have ensued in China. Rona feels lucky to have been able to personally experience such vast changes. In his words, his wonderful experience of living 30 years in China has gone far beyond his expectations.

Upon finishing his studies in China, Rona took up a position in Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Soon after, he was dispatched to the Turkish embassy in Beijing. In 1995, when the Turkish president visited China, Rona acted as the president's interpreter – his very first time as an interpreter for a state leader, a moment he has since been very proud of. His skillful mastery of Chinese language has earned him many compliments. Rona has since gone on to become the No. 1 Turkish-Chinese interpreter for good reason. Even now, he still has the photos of the meetings between Chinese and Turkish leaders during different periods, with himself as the interpreter.

"This is a front-page headline. Here is our President, and that's me behind him," he says, showing us an old page of People's Daily.

With the growth of trade between China and Turkey, in 1999 Garanti Bank set up a representative office in Shanghai, becoming the first Turkish bank to establish a presence in China. Despite his love for diplomatic work, understanding the huge potential in China-Turkey economic and trade exchanges and promising prospects in the business world, Rona quit his job at the Turkish Consulate General in Shanghai and became the chief representative of Garanti Bank's Shanghai office.

In 2012, China-Turkey trade volume rocketed to US $24 billion – a vast sum that entails a huge demand for banking services. However, as per China's regulations, representative offices of foreign banks are not allowed to engage in any profit-making banking business. Therefore, Rona has devoted more attention to market research, investment consultation and trade promotion. Many Turkish people intending to invest in China have come to Rona for advice. This has made him a promoter of and witness to bilateral economic and trade exchanges.

New business opportunities are now coming available to Rona with the establishment of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone and the prospect of a series of major Chinese initiatives and policies, such as building a Silk Road economic belt and relaxing access to the financial sector. On October 29, 2013, the Marmaray undersea tunnel opened in Istanbul – the world's first underwater railway tunnel linking Europe and Asia, making Turkey an important transfer hub for trade between China and Europe, which is bound to bring new opportunities to China-Turkey trade development. Rona is very excited about these advances.

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