A special year for China and Cyprus

By George N. Tzogopoulos
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, July 29, 2021
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Passengers wait to board a bus which was imported from China in Nicosia, Cyprus, on July 5, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

This year, China and the Republic of Cyprus are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations. The fundamental principle that drives the bilateral partnership is the parallel support for "one China" and the resolution of the Cyprus Question under the UN framework. 

In fact, as a permanent member of the Security Council, China has every reason to play a constructive role in facilitating U.N. talks on the Cyprus Issue that remains unsolved after 1974 – in line with relevant resolutions and international law. 

In a recent press conference, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson called on parties to abide by these resolutions, act in ways conducive to regional peace and stability, and create conditions for an early, comprehensive, and lasting settlement. 

China's stance has been consistent in the critical course of the 21st century. In 2004, when then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan was proposing a unification plan for the island, Beijing backed a draft Security Council resolution encouraging Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot voters to approve it and end the division. 

After the Greek-Cypriot community rejected the Annan plan, the Chinese administration insisted on the significance of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus and expressed its hope for the differences between the two communities to be narrowed. 

The long-standing problem did recently attract international attention because of the announcement in Cyprus by Turkish and Turkish Cypriot leaders on July 20 on the further reopening of part of the fenced-off area of Varosha, an abandoned city on the eastern edge of the island after 1974. 

On July 23, a U.N. presidential statement approved by all 15 Security Council members, upheld that no actions should be carried out in relation to Varosha and called for their immediate reversal. The Security Council had already expressed its concern in October 2020 reaffirming the status of this zone as set out in resolutions including 550 (1984) and 789 (1992).

In a May interview to Cypriot media, Chinese Ambassador Liu Yantao also said that his country fully recognized the role of the U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) in maintaining peace and stability on the Island and was systematically supporting its mandate renewals. Similarly, he shared his pride about Chinese peacekeeping police officers serving with the U.N. Police (UNPOL) in Cyprus. 

Beyond the stalemate on the Cyprus Question, the Republic of Cyprus, a member-state of the EU since 2004, is a partner of interest to the Chinese government. In February 2010, for example, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi visited Nicosia and met Cypriot President Demitris Christofias and his counterpart Marcos Kyprianou. 

All Cypriot presidents have visited China since the EU accession. Tassos Papadopoulos did so in 2006 and was followed by Demitris Christofias in August 2008 on the occasion of the Beijing Olympic Games and, in October 2008, during the 7th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). 

In April 2019, current President Nicos Anastasiades attended the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing and signed an agreement on the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Cypriot dancers perform during the China Cultural Festival in Limassol, Cyprus, on Oct. 19, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

Relations between China and the Republic of Cyprus are steadily improving creating new opportunities for economic collaboration. For instance, a joint venture, in which China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering is participating, is now constructing Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) installations in Cyprus. 

Tassos Papadopoulos already invited Chinese companies during his 2006 visit. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing and Nicosia are also collaborating harmoniously. The Embassy of China in Cyprus has made a donation to support research on antibodies conducted by Cypriot universities.

In January 2021, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a stopover in Cyprus on his official trip to Africa and met with his counterpart Nicos Christodoulides. 

That was the latest high-level face-to-face meeting between the two sides, although the two ministers do regularly hold telephone conversations and Christodoulides was extended an invitation to visit Beijing. 

The Republic of Cyprus values China's international role. Optimism about new steps to cement the relationship during this special year cannot but be sparked. 

George N. Tzogopoulos is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit:


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