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Interview with Yi Qingtao, Party Secretary of Lüshunkou District Committee of CPC

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- Dear Mr. Yi Qingtao, you are a leader of the city of Lushun, the history of which is tightly linked with Russia. Is the memory of these historical ties still alive in Lüshunkou?

-      Indeed, according to well-known historical reasons Lüshunkou (formerly Port Arthur), has preserved the Russian cultural and historical traditions most of all among the cities of the Far East of China. Lüshunkou has preserved the buildings of the former Military Club, Electric Power Station, barracks on Xiangyang Street, the residence of Military Governor, Lieutenant-General Roman I. Kondratenko, and the residence of Fleet Admiral Stepan O. Makarov. Until now, you can see many other military and historic sites, which amount to more than 300, as well as many dwelling houses. When on August 9, 1945 the Soviet Union brought its troops to the Northeast of China, the headquarters of the military command was located exactly in Lüshunkou. On February 23, 1955 the ceremony of erecting a monument to Sino-Soviet friendship was held in Lüshunkou, and Zhou Enlai, then Chinese Premier, personally made a calligraphic writing on this occasion. In Lüshunkou there is a monument to the victory over Japanese imperialism, and a house, where on March 2, 1952 former Prime Minister and Former Chairman of the Russian Audit Chamber Sergei Stepashin was born.

In addition, Lüshunkou has the largest outside Russia Memorial Cemetery of the fallen heroes of the Soviet Red Army. Since 2001, this Cemetery was visited by first Russian President Boris Yeltsin, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Government Dmitry Rogozin, and other state officials.  History does not repeat itself, but the historical evidence currently provides links of Lüshunkou area with Russia in the field of historical-cultural study and exchanges, promotes exchanges in the field of tourism, culture, health, as well as the humanitarian exchange.

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- How do you generally assess the relationship between Russia and China?

-        The diplomatic relations between China and Russia are now at the highest level in its history.  There is a very good interaction between the President of your country, Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, resulting in diplomatic relations between the two countries in the new era. Today we have developing strategic partnerships; exchange of visits by leaders of the two countries is considerably intensified, trade and cultural ties are strong as ever, stronger mutual understanding between our peoples is growing. In short, we are experiencing a very good stage of development of relations between Russia and China.

Since November 2009, by the decision of the central government of China, Lüshunkou is completely open to foreigners, and we pay great attention to cooperation with Russia in the sphere of trade, tourism and cultural exchange, encouraging enterprises to develop cooperation with Russian partners in the field of traditional Chinese medicine and health care, tourism, historical and cultural exchange, foreign trade, etc. Recently, "Tochen Ltd."  Dalian Food Company has signed a contract with the "Center Group" from the Siberian city of Kansk for the supply of the first batch of apples in the amount of 600 tons. They also explored the possibility of exports from China of algae and laminaria products, as well as frozen vegetables, chicken, dumplings, etc.  A large Moscow enterprise visited our region to negotiate the delivery a large number of apples to Moscow. According to forecasts, the orders for exports from Lüshunkou to Russia will continue to increase. At the same time Lüshunkou port as an important transportation hub in Northeast China, accounts for up to 70% of logistics operations for the import of Russian king crabs. In the future, a bonded warehouse will be built in Lüshunkou area, which will provide the expansion of Chinese market for Russian seafood.

- In Russia, there are more than 80 regions, and Yakutia is considered one of the most remote ones. Why did you recently visit exactly Yakutia, what was the reason for such a trip?

-        There is an old Chinese proverb: "Even those who are far away from each other, their meeting is predetermined by fate ..." The distance is not an obstacle to friendship.   We can say that the cooperation of Lüshunkou with the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and the city of Yakutsk is predetermined by fate. On May 8 this year, at the invitation of the Chairman of Kai Shi Corporation, our well-known businessman Mr. Chenglian Kai, Lüshunkou District was visited by a delegation from Yakutia, headed by State Counselor of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Andrey Borisov, and Maria Khristoforova, Deputy Chairman of the Public Chamber of the city of Yakutsk, CEO of Sitim Media Group. We had useful talks in cordial and friendly atmosphere. On May 9, on the occasion of Victory Day, which symbolizes the victory and peace, a totemic Yakut hitching post, Serge, was ceremonially installed in "Russian Town" of Lüshunkou. I believe that it is not just a totem pole, but a real symbol, which closely links the hearts of Lüshunkou District and Yakutia, and strengthens the understanding and friendship between the parties.

         Then I received a cordial letter of invitation from the Mayor of the city of Yakutsk. Therefore, in accordance with the need of development of friendly relations and economic ties between enterprises, in order to strengthen and increase mutually beneficial cooperation with Yakutia in the field of tourism, culture, exchange of experts, etc., our delegation has chosen the city of Yakutsk for their visit.

- And what are the results of your trip to Yakutsk?

         - Thanks to this trip to Yakutia, we significantly advanced the negotiations on the implementation of some projects and have achieved significant results. My colleagues and I met with Galina Danchikova, Chairman of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), and during the conference Mayor of Yakutsk Aisen Nikolaev and our delegation have signed a protocol of intent on the establishment of friendly relations between our cities in order to promote cooperation in the fields of economy, tourism, culture, education and exchange of experts. In Yakutsk we have held talks on cooperation in the sphere of media, exchange of art exhibitions and artists, joint search of fallen Soviet heroes, and other issues. The Lüshunkou Society of Russian-Chinese cultural exchanges reached an understanding with the State Counselor of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Mr. Borisov on the establishment and development of cooperation in the sphere of culture, tourism, education, science and technology. Our Scientific and Technical Institute discussed the issues of students exchange with North-Eastern Federal University. Lüshunkou Tourism Association signed a protocol of intentions on cooperation with NTK SAKHA Aviacharter, under which the parties intend to initiate cooperation in the field of mutual presentation of tourist resources, tourist exchange, festival tourism, etc.  The Travel Agency of Kai-Shi Corporation has signed a cooperation agreement with Yakut Travel Agency for the reception of tourists.

In the future, Lushun District and the city of Yakutsk will work together on the exchange of creative teams: joint performance of songs, joint performances of creative groups, we invite Yakut artists to "Sakura Festival" in Lüshunkou in late April 2017,      and Russian veterans and their descendants will be able to visit the largest war memorial of the Soviet soldiers located in Lüshunkou; gifted children from Yakutia will enjoy "Russian Town" of Lüshunkou. In turn, children of Lüshunkou will be able to go to Yakutia to study the Russian language and the local unique culture; North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk and Dalian University of Foreign Languages, located in Lüshunkou, will strengthen the ties, etc.

- What are your most important impressions from this trip?

- This trip to Yakutia left many good memories and gave a lot of results! Firstly, I am grateful to everyone who has provided our contacts and the trip for their sincerity and patience. Thanks to their careful preparation and a very cordial reception, our trip was very successful. Although the travel schedule has been very busy, we all have very good impressions. Taking this opportunity, I once again want to express my sincere gratitude to State Counselor of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Andrey Savvich Borisov, Maria Nikolaevna Khristoforova, Maria Andreyevna Danilova, business manager of "Sitim" Media Group, and others who participated in the preparation of our visit and the reception of the delegation.

Secondly, I admire the dedication and devotion of our Yakut partners to provide effective results. Every detail, every interaction link in the process of our trip has been carefully thought out.

Thirdly, I would like to emphasize our participation in 2nd International Conference,"Cities and People: Local Solutions for Sustainable Development." It was an informative and useful event.

Fourth, I was deeply affected by the Yakut national traditions. I had the honor to participate in the grand national holiday - "Ysyakh of Tuymaada 2016" - and closely acquainted with local customs and life of the people. At this festival all the people were very friendly, so we did not have any sense of alienation; each of us was able to freely participate in activities, to receive personal experience of intercultural communication.

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- Mr. Yi Qingtao, in our times, tourism has become an effective "soft power," which forms good relations between different countries and peoples. How do you think – is it possible to have tourist exchanges between residents of Lüshunkou and Yakutia? Will the Chinese travel at least in the future to the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), or is it too far for them? And what Lüshunkou can offer tourists of Yakutia?

- Through this trip to Yakutia we got an idea of the resources of local tourism and culture, received a personal view of its geographical position, which strengthened our confidence in the possibility of tourist cooperation between Lüshunkou and Yakutia.  In our time, means of transport are very well developed. Distances and Logistics today are not an obstacle for tourists. The main thing is to offer them a unique tourist product. For example, I personally think that it is very beautiful in the fall in Yakutia, because there are a lot of birch trees. Hunting, fishing in rivers and lakes, skiing, etc. will be good projects of Yakutia for tourism development. The peculiar cultural arts of Yakutia – khomus-playing, national sports (eg, mas-wrestling, stick pulling), and other phenomena of popular culture - all this is an important tourist resource of Yakutia, which will be of interest not for residents of Lüshunkou, but also the whole of China. Next year we intend to invite artists and specialists, khomus players for creativity, performances and master classes.

And for the residents of Yakutia a visit to Lüshunkou is a good opportunity to change the cold climate to the soft seaside (an average annual temperature is + 10 degrees), and the opportunity to admire a beautiful combination of mountain and sea. Lüshunkou is a very picturesque town, an architectural and historical reserve and exemplary ecological district. We have the forest and geological parks of national importance in China, festivals of cherry and black cherry have become international brands that have made Lüshunkou a known tourist destination in the east of China. And gourmets can enjoy such gifts of nature as pear, cherry, grape, Abalon clam, sea urchin, and laminaria. These products of Lüshunkou, as well as the famous trepang, have become "visiting cards" of our city. Welcome to Lüshunkou to stay on a beautiful beach, take a pleasant walk on our city, enjoy the local cuisine, and try delicious fruits. Hospitable beaches and the beautiful sea are waiting for tourists from all over Yakutia and Russia.

Oleg Berezhnykh
m. +8618611701251