ISTANBUL, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- Turkey's biggest city Istanbul on Friday voiced readiness to increase cooperation on tourism, education and health with China within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Addressing the opening ceremony of a photo exhibition on tourist attractions in China's northwestern province of Shaanxi, Ismail Gultekin, deputy governor of Istanbul, referred to the fact that his city is at one end of the historic Silk Road, while Xi'an, Shaanxi's provincial capital, at the other end.
"We would like to strengthen our cooperation on tourism as 2018 was declared Turkey Tourism Year in China," Gultekin said, suggesting the establishment of direct flights between Istanbul and major cities in Shaanxi.
"We're ready to pay a visit to Shaanxi next month with a group of Turkish tourism agencies to plan our strategies for the upcoming year," he said. "We can develop our relations in several fields including education, health and tourism."
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative, or the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, which aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient trade routes.
Turkey has agreed to align its Middle Corridor project with the Chinese initiative.
Qian Bo, the Chinese consul general in Istanbul, noted that more than 10,000 Chinese porcelain pieces, which were made during China's dynasties of Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) and shipped to Turkey through trade along the ancient Silk Road, are now collected by the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul.
He said that Istanbul now houses some 70 Chinese companies, which have made investments in areas including banking, logistics, equipment repair, telecommunication and new energy.
China's direct investment in countries along the Belt and Road over the past four years has amounted to more than 60 billion U.S. dollars, while Chinese companies have set up 56 economic and trade cooperation zones in more than 20 countries, creating nearly 1.1 billion dollars in tax revenue as well as 180,000 jobs, said Qian.
With the execution of the Belt and Road Initiative, Shaanxi has transformed itself from a hinterland province to be a place at the forefront of opening up westward, said Li Wei, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Shaanxi Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China.
Shaanxi is making efforts to establish a number of centers involving communication, trade, logistics, international capacity cooperation, science education, international travel and regional finance, Li said.
In addition, Shaanxi has been exploring new ways to develop economic cooperation and cultural exchanges with countries along the Belt and Road routes, Li added.
On display at the photo exhibition included 42 photos featuring natural landscape, historical and cultural heritage sites, and folk custom in Shaanxi.