An Egyptian visits a stall displaying Chinese papercuttings at a festivity celebrating the Chinese Spring Festival in Alexandria, north Egypt, Jan. 28, 2019. Egyptian and Chinese people Saturday shared joyful festivity held by the Chinese Consulate General in Alexandria to mark the upcoming Chinese Spring Festival starting on Feb. 5 this year. (Xinhua/Meng Tao)
by Mahmoud Fouly
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Egyptian and Chinese people Saturday shared joyful festivity held by China's consulate in the northern province of Alexandria to mark the upcoming Chinese Spring Festival.
The evening event, held in a hall decorated with hanging Chinese-style red lanterns, gathered Chinese and Egyptian diplomats, officials, university students of Chinese and Arabic languages and professors.
The event also came ahead of the Chinese celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of China.
"Openness leads to progress and isolation results in backwardness," said Zhao Liying, Consul General of China in Alexandria, stressing that China will continue advancing on the way of joint development and prosperity with all world states including Egypt.
"All the friends here support the relation, cooperation and friendship between China and Egypt," she added in her statement at the ceremony.
Zhao expressed the willingness of the consulate general to work with Egyptian friends on enhancing fruitful cooperation between the two sides in the light of China's Belt and Road Initiative for multinational development and "opening a new chapter in the relations between China and Egypt."
Senior officials from Alexandria province said that the Egyptian-Chinese relations have recently witnessed constant growth thanks to the support of both leaderships.
"Alexandria province takes part actively today in celebrating the Chinese New Year, wishing our Chinese friends a happy New Year and hoping for further progress and growth of the Egyptian-Sino relations," Ahmed Basiouny, top secretary at Alexandria province, told Xinhua during the event.
On stage during the festive ceremony, a band of Egyptian and Chinese students of both languages at Alexandria University performed a song entitled "Happy Chinese New Year" amid cheers and applauds from smiling attendees.
Sara Suleiman, a 19-year-old university student, was one of the Egyptian singers who said that her admiration of the Chinese culture motivated her to join the newly-opened Chinese department at Alexandria University.
"The Chinese language is promising, for China is a leading economy worldwide. Besides, both Egypt and China have old and deep-rooted civilizations that make them share a lot of things in common," she said, expressing her wish to visit China one day.
On adjacent tables at the left corner of the vast hall, Chinese students offered the crowded guests traditional activities characterizing the Spring Festival, including paper cutting and calligraphy, in addition to special drinks and cookies such as Chinese tea and dumplings.
"I am here offering the guests Chinese dumplings, the traditional food for the Chinese Spring festival. The Chinese name of this traditional food means happiness and joy," Chinese student Mao Jingjing, 23, said.
Mao added that she studied Arabic for four years in China and one year in Egypt's Alexandria University. She is interested in visiting Egyptian museums to learn more about the Egyptian civilization and culture.
For her part, Nahed Abdullah, Egyptian professor of Chinese language and head of the Chinese department at the Faculty of Arts of Alexandria University, said that the Chinese department has just been opened with 58 Egyptian students and the number is expected to gradually increase
"We have for example about 400 junior students of Chinese language at Ain Shams University in the capital Cairo," she noted.
Abdullah revealed that there are current plans to establish a Confucius Institute for teaching Chinese language in Alexandria University to be the fourth one in Egypt.
"The establishment of a Chinese department in the Faculty of Arts is the nucleus for the future establishment of a Confucius Institute," she added.
At the right side of the hall, a photo gallery was held to narrate, in black-and-white and colored pictures with captions, the stages of China's development and opening up over the past four decades.
The exhibition included another photo gallery held by Egyptians, named "China in the Eyes of Visitors," where four young people working for Alexandria province portrayed their experiences in the places they stopped at during their visit to China last October.
"I have taken these pictures in the Chinese capital Beijing, Shanghai municipality and Jiangxi Province to register what drew my attention in China for better understanding of the Chinese culture," Asma Mahdy said.