We will continue to strengthen the cooperation and exchanges between our two countries, and together we will share a bright future

- 5G network will contribute more than 3 trillion US dollars to global GDP growth over the next 15 years

- Blockchain technology is key to the next generation Internet and will lead a new information era

- The two heads of state jointly announced the elevation of our relations to a strategic partnership, and thus bringing our bilateral relations to a new stage of development

- Bulgaria has become China's 7th trading partner among member states of the "17 + 1 Cooperation" and China has become Bulgaria's third largest trading partner outside the EU

- Cooperation between China and Bulgaria in the field of energy is focused on new energy, nuclear energy and energy management

- The volume of trade between China and Bulgaria has increased to 2.72 billion US dollars in 2019

- The China Cultural Center in Sofia is the first Chinese cultural center to be completed and put into operation in Central and Eastern Europe

- Your Excellency, you have great achievements in science and technology. China has launched its 5G networks last November with the ambition to move forward to the next generation technology. Some countries have expressed concerns that 5G network will endanger their national security, while others welcomed it. Tell us more.

- Currently, a new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation is evolving at an accelerated pace. As a new generation mobile communication technology that is widely used globally, the 5G network, with its ubiquity and complete connectivity, will deeply change the people’s production and living activities, and drive human society into the Internet of Things (IoT) era. Through integration in different areas such as education, medicine, industrial manufacturing and smart city building, 5G technology is promoting the deep integration of the digital and real economies, creating new applications, businesses and value. It is estimated that 5G will contribute more than 3 trillion US dollars to global GDP growth over the next 15 years. By 2035, it will have a market scale worth 12 trillion US dollars and will create 22 million jobs worldwide.

China attaches great importance to the development and application of 5G. In 2019, the Chinese government issued 5G commercial license and officially launched the commercial service of 5G. With the expansion of 5G application scenario, in addition to satisfying the communication link between people, most applications will focus on communication between things such as the Internet of Vehicles and the Industrial Internet of Things. We will actively promote the integration and application of 5G in industrial development, information consumption, public services, social governance and so on to promote digital transformation for the benefit of mankind.

Some individual countries are politicizing technical issues by using the so-called national security as an excuse to mobilize state power and abuse measures such as export controls to continuously suppress and contain specific enterprises in other countries. These actions undermined the principles of market economy and fair competition in disregard of the basic rules of international trade and  constituted a serious threat to the security of global production and supply chains. As a result, they detriment the interests of not only Chinese companies, but also companies of their own countries as well as other countries.

We hope and believe that Bulgaria will continue to provide Chinese companies with a fair, equitable and non-discriminatory business environment in order to strengthen their will to invest and do business in Bulgaria, so that advanced scientific and technological achievements can better benefit Bulgarians and world people at large.

- China is devoted to the development of blockchain technology. Why is it so important to China?

- It’s true that blockchain technology has been developed rapidly in China in recent years. Its application has been extended to many areas such as digital finance, IoT, smart manufacturing, supply chain management and digital asset trading.

Blockchain technology is key to the next generation Internet and will lead a new information era. It can stipulate the creation of many new technologies and businesses and open a new world beyond our imagination. This means enormous opportunities to countries as well as businesses, institutions, entrepreneurs and researchers.

Currently, the blockchain is in the forefront of global technological development. Major global technology powers are accelerating their deployment in this area.

The Chinese government attaches great importance to blockchain development. As early as 2016, blockchain technology was included in the “National Informatization Plan During the 13th Five-Year Plan” as a cutting-edge technology of strategic importance. In 2018, President Xi Jinping cited blockchain along with artificial intelligence, quantum information, mobile communications and IoT as representatives of new generation information technology. Currently, China is vigorously promoting the in-depth integration of blockchain and the real economy, using the technology to explore the innovation of digital economic models and the application of "blockchain +" in the livelihood of the people.

China has made good explorations in the areas of finance, medicine and copyright protection, and has now expanded its application to bio-medicine, quarantine and inspection, tracing and anti-counterfeiting and food safety. The integrated application of blockchain technology will certainly play an important role in new technological innovations and industrial transformation.

- China has made great progress in the exploration of the space. How do you view international space cooperation?

- Over the past 60 years of remarkable development since its space industry was established in 1956, China has made great achievements in this sphere, including the development of atomic and hydrogen bombs, missiles, man-made satellites, manned spaceflight and lunar probe. It has opened up a path of self-reliance and independent innovation, and has created the spirit of China's space industry. 

As for international space cooperation, the Chinese government believes that all countries in the world have equal rights to peacefully explore, develop and utilize outer space and its celestial bodies, and that all countries' outer space activities should be beneficial to their economic development and social progress, and to the peace, security, subsistence and development of mankind.

China maintains that international exchanges and cooperation should be strengthened on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, peaceful utilization and inclusive development.

Since 2011, China has signed space cooperation agreement or memorandum of understanding with 30 countries, space agencies and international organizations. It has taken part in relevant activities sponsored by the United Nations and other relevant international organizations, and supported international commercial cooperation in space. These measures have yielded fruitful results.

It is mankind's unremitting pursuit to peacefully explore and utilize outer space. Standing at a new historical starting line, China is determined to speed up the development of its space industry, and actively carry out international space exchanges and cooperation, so that achievements in space activities will serve and improve the well-being of mankind in a wider scope, at a deeper level and with higher standards. China will promote the lofty cause of peace and development together with other countries.

- During his state visit to China in July 2019, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev held talks with President Xi Jinping. Together they announced the elevation of bilateral relations to a strategic partnership. What kind of door has it opened for bilateral relationship ?

- China and Bulgaria are countries with traditional friendship. Bulgaria is the second country in the world to recognize and establish diplomatic relations with the new China. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two sides have strictly adhered to the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. Our bilateral relations have withstood the test of international vicissitudes and have developed smoothly. In July 2019, President Rumen Radev paid a successful state visit to China. The two heads of state jointly announced the elevation of our relations to a strategic partnership, and thus bringing our bilateral relationship to a new stage of development.

I really like your metaphor of a door opened for future development of relations.

There are advantages for further development of our pragmatic cooperation:

First, the two countries enjoy profound and long friendship. There are solid political and social basis for our friendly relations and pragmatic cooperation.

Second, Bulgaria has exceptional geographical advantages. It plays a vital role in China-EU cooperation, being the bridgehead for China’s access to the market in Southeast Europe and further to the market of the whole Europe.

Third, the two countries are at similar stages of development and can complement each other with their respective industrial advantages.

Fourth, both countries have the strong political will to strengthen cooperation. Bulgaria highly appreciates and actively participates in the "Belt and Road" initiative and the "17 + 1 Co-operation" mechanism, putting them among the priorities in its diplomatic agenda. In 2015, with the signing of a memorandum of understanding on joint building of the "Belt and Road", Bulgaria became one of the first countries in Central and Eastern Europe to sign relevant documents with China. In my opinion, we can further our pragmatic cooperation in the areas of agriculture and food processing, auto industry, information technology, finance, energy and transportation infrastructure, education, culture, science and technology, and tourism.

Although the epidemic has brought some impact on our pragmatic cooperation, I believe that after it is over and through our joint efforts, exchanges and cooperation in various fields within the framework of the "Belt and Road" initiative and the “17 + 1 Co-operation” will soon be restored and activated, and will come to a new start for greater development.

- Bilateral trade and economic cooperation has continued to grow. What are the specific dimensions at the moment?

- In recent years, we’ve seen closer trade and economic exchanges, frequent visits by governmental and business delegations, constantly enriched forms of economic cooperation and expansion of spheres of trade and cooperation. Average annual growth rate of bilateral trade was maintained at around 20%.Trade between China and Bulgaria has increased from US$ 70 million in 1997 to US$ 2.72 billion in 2019, an increase of 38 times in the span of22 years. Bulgaria has become China's 7th trading partner among the "17 + 1" member states, leaping 4 places from the 11th  in 2017. At the same time, China has become Bulgaria's third largest trading partner outside the EU.

Chinese investment in Bulgaria (including investment through a third country) is also growing rapidly, now at hundreds of millions of US Dollars. More than 20 companies or representative offices are operating in Bulgaria. Investment cooperation between the two countries has expanded from traditional areas such as agriculture, energy, automanufacturing, to emerging sectors such as communications, finance, cloud platforms and visual image segmentation technology. The investment model has also gradually expanded from trade and investment cooperation to cooperation in finance and management model.

Looking forward to the future, I believe that both China and Bulgaria will take advantage of the new opportunities that come along with the establishment of  the strategic partnership and will continue to encourage companies on both sides to make new progress and breakthrough in transport, logistics, energy, health care, information technology, tourism and service trade, and that the two countries will make joint efforts to push trade and economic cooperation to an even higher level.

- China is showing a stronger interest in energy co-operation on the Balkans.  China has invested in wind power station in Romania, thermal power station and wind power station in Greece, and electric power station in Serbia. What is China’s interest in the energy sector in Bulgaria?

- Energy cooperation between China and Bulgaria is mainly focused in new energy, nuclear energy and energy management. Pragmatic results have been achieved. Chinese companies are keenly interested in extensive energy cooperation with Bulgaria and hope for more in-depth and comprehensive  cooperation.

At the end of 2019, the European Union staged the "European Green Deal", which aims to reduce carbon emission and tackle climate change. The Bulgarian government recently established a Green Council, which reflects Bulgaria's high attention to the use of green energy and sustainable development. Chinese companies are mainly investing in the construction of solar and wind power plants in Bulgaria. Currently, more than a dozen power stations under Chinese investment are operating well and are playing a positive role in reducing carbon emissions and balancing between environmental protection and economic development.

In the field of nuclear energy, Chinese companies is following closely the construction of nuclear power plant in Bulgaria. The Chinese National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is on the short list of strategic investors for the Belene Nuclear Power Plant. CNNC is one of the few large enterprises in the world that posses a complete nuclear industry production chain, with its world-leading level of capability and technology.

In the field of energy management, Chinese companies are actively assisting Bulgarian companies to improve their day-to-day management efficiency with  effective energy cost management system. Another Chinese company, ZTE Bulgaria, provides intelligent metering system for CEZ measuring devices, helping to not only improve the efficiency of meter reading, but also to avoid unnecessary energy consumption.

Chinese companies are actively exploring opportunities for cooperation with Bulgarian other energy areas. Chinese companies are actively building biomass power plants, and are exploring possibilities of investment in wind power generation.

- Bilateral agricultural cooperation has been strengthened following the establishment of the Association for the Promotion of Agricultural Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (APACCCEEC) in 2015. What is its situation at the moment?

- During the third China-CEEC Summit in Belgrade in December 2014, Bulgaria was designated to lead agricultural cooperation. In June 2015, the APACCCEEC was established in Bulgaria to provide specific guidance on agricultural cooperation. In recent years, bilateral agricultural cooperation has continued to deepen:

First, the mechanism for cooperation continues to be improved. In order to promote bilateral cooperation in agriculture, the agricultural departments of the two countries have set up an Agricultural Cooperation Team. Workshops are held each year in order to study and sort out the agricultural cooperation results and to formulate annual plans.

Second, cooperation in the field of agricultural sciences and technology is constantly intensifying. The two sides cooperated in planting management and breeding of flowers and fruits as well as the prevention and control of pest insects.  In addition, we also carried out technical cooperation in buffalo farming and processing of dairy products .

Third, pragmatic cooperation among enterprises. For instance, "China Bright Dairy Co. Ltd" has successfully developed Momchilovtsi style yogurt with imported Bulgarian yogurt sourdough. The company organizes the "International Yogurt Festival" in Momchilovtsi every year. In 2011, on leased land in Bulgaria, the Tianjin Agricultural Reclamation Group Corporation (TARG)started the first Chinese agricultural entity project in a EU member state. They planted wheat, sunflower, corn, rye, rapeseed, parsley, alfalfa, millet and rice. During the 7th Summit of China and Central and East European Countries (CEEC) in Sofia in July 2018, the first demonstration zone for agricultural cooperation between China and CEEC was launched in Bulgaria. The demonstration zone aims to popularize the new model of agricultural cooperation between China and CEEC and develop the whole agricultural chain that includes planting, breeding and processing of agricultural products. The Bulgarian branch of TARG has experimented the planting of millet and rice, and has built 20 vegetable greenhouses.

Fourth, trade in agricultural products is progressing steadily. In November 2017, the first logistics center and exhibition hall for agricultural products from China and CEEC was built and put into operation in Plovdiv. The center is designed to promote the trade, sale, exhibition and distribution of agricultural products from China and CEEC through e-commerce platform. In April 2019, the first logistics center and exhibition hall for agricultural and other products from China and CEEC was open in Yantian Port of Shenzhen, China. Within the "17 +1" agricultural cooperation mechanism, the project provides "bonded exhibition", market promotion, channel development and product access consulting services through M2B+ platform in the bonded area. It also provides one-stop international supply chain services such as cross-border logistics solutions,  product access procedures and financial settlement.

Bulgarian products such as sea food, corn, alfalfa, milk and other dairy products, peeled sunflower seeds and honey have already received permits for export to China. Close consultations are going on regarding the export of other Bulgarian agricultural products to China. China welcomes the entry of more Bulgarian high-quality agricultural products into China to further diversify the Chinese market and to bring even greater profits to Bulgarian farmers. We see great prospects in agricultural cooperation between the two countries.

- In which sectors of our economy does China have an interest in investing in the future?

- In recent years, trade and economic cooperation between China and Bulgaria have shown stable development. Bulgaria is a member of the European Union and an important participant in the "Belt and Road" initiative and the "17+1 Cooperation". In recent years, attracted by the favorable investment environment and policies of Bulgaria, many Chinese companies are casting their eyes on Bulgaria. They hope to develop cooperation in various economic areas with Bulgaria through active communication and in-depth understanding.

In the field of information and communication, well-known Chinese IT companies, such as Huawei, ZTE, Dahua Technology and Thunder soft, have opened branches in Bulgaria and are operating well. Bulgaria has strong human resource advantage in basic disciplines such as mathematics, and in IT development. Meanwhile, Chinese IT companies have advantages in terms of technology and marketing. We hope that Chinese and Bulgarian companies can work closely and give full play to their respective advantages to achieve win-win result.

In the field of auto industry, Bulgaria is a leader in the EU in the production of auto parts. World famous car makers use parts from Bulgaria. It is said that, out of every 10 cars made in Europe, 8 of them are equipped with auto parts from Bulgaria. The Chinese Great Wall Motors, in cooperation with a Bulgarian company, has opened a factory here. In recent years, new energy vehicle is being developed rapidly in China with many relevant technologies and patents. New energy vehicles represent the future of auto industry. We encourage new energy auto companies to come and explore possibilities for cooperation in Bulgaria.

In the field of infrastructure, Chinese companies are actively following infrastructure projects in Bulgaria. Some top Chinese companies such as the China Communications Construction Company Ltd. and the China State Construction Engineering Corp. have opened offices or branches in Bulgaria and are cooperating with Bulgarian companies. Chinese companies have world-leading technologies in all areas of infrastructure such as railways, highways, bridges, tunnels, ports and subways. The Chinese Embassy is also actively pushing for pragmatic cooperation in infrastructure and hopes to see successful projects in the near future.

Chinese companies also keep exploring opportunities for co-operation in tourism and specialty Bulgarian products. Bulgaria has rich tourist resources, which are not well exposed to Chinese tourists. We need to figure out tourist routes and services that best suit Chinese tourists. Meanwhile, Bulgarian products are becoming increasingly popular on the Chinese market. Bulgarian rose products are in hot demand. Many Chinese cosmetics companies have come to explore the possibilities of cooperation.

In conclusion, there is great potential for investment and cooperation in a wide range of areas, and we encourage cooperation in all suitable areas. We hope for more exchanges between companies from both countries so as to explore more areas for pragmatic cooperation.

- The Bulgaria-China cultural relations are also being strengthened, especially after the opening of the China Cultural Center in Sofia. What are your focal points during your term in Bulgaria?

- Bilateral cultural exchange and cooperation have always been my focus. China and Bulgaria are countries with long history and diversified cultures that give us a lot of space for cooperation. With our common aspiration and efforts for cultural exchange, we are able to enhance mutual understanding and recognition. In my opinion, cultural exchange is always the foundation and bond to maintain  healthy development of bilateral relations.

With the steady development of bilateral relations, especially stipulated by the "Belt and Road" initiative and the "17+1 Cooperation", cultural ties between China and Bulgaria are closer at all levels. Due to the epidemic, many of the planned cultural exchange activities have been canceled or postponed. However, the level of the bilateral cultural exchanges before the start of the epidemic was rapidly up both in quantity and quality.

In 2019, on occasion of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations, the two sides jointly planned and organized a series of cultural activities, 37 of which on a large scale, in collaboration with the National Assembly, the National Archives, the National Gallery, the National Academy of Arts, the National Palace of Culture, the Sofia Philharmonic, the National Film Center, National Television, Eurocom Television, Sofia Municipality, Varna Municipality, Gabrovo Municipality, Sofia University, Veliko Tarnovo University,the International Folklore Festival in Veliko Tarnovo, the International Youth Dance Festival in Panagyurishte, the National Folklore Festival "Kapanska Kitka" in Razgrad, the International Festival of Crafts and Arts in Troyan, East-West Publishing House, Bulgarian Bestseller Publishing House, and Paradise Center, etc. Some of the activities, such as the "Happy Chinese New Year" gala, combine local festivity with Chinese features, and have gradually developed into annual brand-name cultural events. Thanks to these activities, Bulgarian people not only had a close contact with Chinese music, dance, martial arts, acrobatics, and intangible cultural heritage, etc., gained deeper understanding of Chinese festival customs. At the same time, Bulgarian folk music, jazz, drama, painting, sculpture and art crafts were introduced to the Chinese people through bilateral and "17 + 1 cooperation" platforms. According to incomplete statistics, in 2019 alone, 12 groups from Bulgaria participated in various cultural and tourist events in China.

Talking about "Happy Chinese New Year", I have to mention something I will never forget during the New Year's concert by the China National Symphony Orchestra at the Bulgaria Hall on January 15 this year. When the Orchestraplayed the famous Bulgarian patriotic song "Hey, Pole Shiroko", adapted by  Mr. Zou Ye, a Chinese composer, the majestic and familiar melody immediately resonated with the audience. Many bursted into tears. Everyone stood up, applauded and sang. I, too, was deeply moved, because in this brief moment of true feelings and passions, all boundaries and barriers were completely erased. Only the music overflowed, stirred and sublimated everyone's hearts and cast everyone into the same emotion in the same time. This atmosphere was truly unforgettable. This is why I believe that cultural exchange scan and will always play a very important and special role in strengthening mutual recognition and friendship between our peoples.

In cultural exchanges, language learning and research are undoubtedly the most basic tools. Chinese language teaching in Bulgaria has profound tradition and great capacity. From last year to the beginning of this year, a famous Chinese classic novel - "A Dream of the Red Mansions", two modern Chinese drama classics - "Tea House" and "Thunder Storm", as well as a contemporary Chinese science fiction "The Three Bodies" were successively translated from Chinese into Bulgarian by Bulgarian sinologists and Published in Bulgaria. These are quite amazing achievements. I believe that there is huge potential and great prospects for future cooperation in book publishing and translation of film and television works.

With the strong support of the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria, the Chinese Cultural Center in Sofia was inaugurated in November 2017 and officially open for operation in July 2019. It is the first Chinese cultural center to be completed and put into operation in Central and Eastern Europe. Within the first year of its operation, it organized over 70 events including training sessions, exhibitions and performances. It is already playing an active role in sharing Chinese culture with the Bulgarian people. It is currently working hard to build itself into a window for a comprehensive and three-dimensional understanding of China, a bridge and link for cultural exchanges between China and Bulgaria, and an incubator and testing ground for cultural cooperation. During the epidemic, the center proactively developed online services to create a place to explore China around the clock. Of course, the Center is still very young and it must constantly strengthen and extend its contact with the Bulgarian cultural and artistic strata, design and introduce its own products, form an independent brand and integrate better into the Bulgarian cultural ecosystem.

In 2019, China and Bulgaria relationship was lifted to a strategic partnership, and cooperation and exchange in various fields entered a new stage. As an important link of the relations, cultural exchange will also be fully elevated. The Embassy will focus on the following:

First, promoting the formulation of a new round of bilateral cultural cooperation plan. The year 2020 is the last year for the implementation of the 2017-2020 plan for cultural cooperation between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China and the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria. We will assist in the preparation and signing of the new plan as the guideline for future bilateral cultural exchange and cooperation.

Second, promoting the showcasing of cultures and arts. There are various  cultural and artistic activities in both countries, many of which are internationally famous, such as the Shanghai International Art Festival, the "Meet in Beijing" Art Festival, the Shenzhen "Belt and Road" International Music Festival, the "Silk Road" International Art Festival, the "Maritime Silk Road" International Art Festival, the Chengdu International Festival of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Shanghai International Film Festival, the International Film Festival, "Sofia Music Weeks", "March Music Days" in Ruse,  the "Varna Summer" International Theater Festival, the "Varna Summer" International Music Festival, etc. These are important partners for cooperation. We will continue to strengthen cultural cooperation and exchanges between the two countries. When conditions allow, we will resume cultural exchange projects, such as the "Happy Chinese New Year" and the Mid-Autumn Festival events.

Third, promoting cooperation and exchanges between museums. China, like Bulgaria, is a country endowed with many culturalrelics and world heritage sites. We are currently actively promoting cooperation between the National Museum of China and the National History Museum of Bulgariain museum management, archaeological research, preservation and management of intangible cultural heritage, and the exchange of exhibitions, etc. We also plan to present an exhibition of porcelain products from Jingdezhen at an appropriate time next year. China is famous for its porcelain, and Jingdezhen is the capital of Chinese porcelain. I believe that this exhibition will be very attractive for Bulgarians who are interested in Chinese porcelain.

Fourth, strengthening cooperation and exchanges in press and publications. As I mentioned earlier, China and Bulgaria enjoy extensive cooperation in book publishing. Following the outbreak of the epidemic in Bulgaria, we actively encouraged relevant cooperation between the China Publishing Corporation and Bulgarian publishing institutions. By way of providing free copyright, the Chinese side endorsed the free-of-charge distribution of the English version of the book "GET OUT, COVID-19" to support counter-epidemic efforts in Bulgaria. We are currently working on the publishing in China of the biography of Bulgarian football superstar  Mr. Hristo Stoichkov.

Fifth, expanding cooperation in the fields of radio, cinema and television. During the visit of the delegation of the Chinese International Radio and Television Corporation last year,  an agreement was reachedwith the Bulgarian National Television on the opening  of a rubric of "Chinese Theater" to show a number of Chinese feature, animated and documentary films. If successful, we will expand such cooperation. At the same time, we welcome good Bulgarian works to be introduced on Chinese platforms.

Sixth, supporting the work of the Chinese Cultural Center in Sofia. I hope the Center will not only become a window for the Bulgarian people to learn about China and Chinese culture, but also integrate into the lives of local people, and make it the best place for our Bulgarian friends to experience the Chinese cultural life. Therefore, I sincerely hope that you will have a chance to visit the Center, and give your comments and suggestions to help the Center grow.

- Recently, there has been a strong interest among young Bulgarians in Chinese language and Chinese universities. Is there a reverse interest of Chinese youth in the Bulgarian language and civilization?

- Chinese President Xi Jinping said not so long ago that China welcomes excellent youth from all countries to study in China, to learn more about China, to tell the world about the China in their eyes, to have more exchanges with Chinese youths, to join hands with young people around the world to bridge people’s hearts and contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Currently, a growing number of Bulgarian students are studying at top Chinese Universities such as Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, Shanghai Jiaotong University, etc. The trending is turning from pure Chinese language learning to more diversified areas of study including Chinese language, history, international relations, arts, traditional Chinese medicine and so on. Some Bulgarian graduates have already become active participants and contributors in bilateral exchanges  in education, culture, trade and economic cooperation.

The enthusiasm for learning Chinese language among Bulgarian young people continues to grow. Wherever I go in Bulgaria, I am always deeply impressed by many young people who can chat with me in Chinese. I believe that in the near future, these young people will become the backbone of the exchanges between our two countries.

With the increasingly close bilateral exchanges, Chinese young people are also showing keen interest in the Bulgarian language and civilization. Over the past three years, the number of Chinese students studying at Bulgarian universities has increased by an average of 30% per year. They are  mainly learning Bulgarian language and literature, music, fine arts, history, film and television arts, etc. Meanwhile, Chinese universities, such as Beijing Foreign Studies University and Tianjin Foreign Studies University, have opened bachelor's and master's programs in Bulgarian language to prepare more talents for China-Bulgaria exchanges.

In addition, joint training programs between Chinese and Bulgarian universities are being implemented, such as the joint training program between Tianjin Foreign Studies University and UNWE, the language training program between Beijing Foreign Studies University and Sofia University and Veliko Tarnovo University. These are effective platforms to train Chinese students into talents with expertise in Bulgarian language and culture. Last year,  a dozen Chinese students from Shanghai Jiaotong University joined a summer program at Sofia University and Plovdiv Agrarian University. They had good exchanges with Bulgarian students and enriched their knowledge about Bulgarian history, culture and social development.

- You have been in Bulgaria for more than a year. What are your impressions so far?

- I am very happy to be appointed Chinese Ambassador to the friendly Bulgaria,  the land of roses. Soon after arriving in Sofia, my wife and I started to affectionately call Bulgaria a "land of treasures". Our experience over the past months proves that we were right. We have climbed up Cherni Vrah, all the way up the Seven Rila Lakes, wandered around the ancient town of Sozopol and along the Black Sea coast, enjoyed rose-picking and paraded with local people in Kazanlak, visited various festivals and experienced folk customs in Koprivshtitsa, Rozhen, Momchilovtsi and Kyustendil... We have visited more than 10 regions, especially Plovdiv - the European Capital of Culture of 2019, where we kept going back. Everywhere we go, we are impressed by the pragmatism of officials and the warmth of the people. The more places we visit, the more we love this  "God’s back garden". We hope to integrate deeper into Bulgarian life. There are so many things we love, potatoes, cherries, prunes, pink tomatoes, wines.... and we have even learned to make yogurt with the unique Bulgarian sourdough. My wife uses Bulgarian rose products every day. She likes Bulgarian fashion brand "Jeni Style" and she enjoys dancing "horo" with the local people.

When we worked in South America, we enjoyed watching tango. Good tango requires a high degree of tacit understanding and concerted pace. After we arrived in Bulgaria, we soon became fans of the joyful "horo" dance. Man or woman, old or young, everyone can join the dance. As the circle expands, the stage becomes more and more spectacular, symbolic of harmony and collaboration. Today, the world is a global village. If all villagers join hands and unite as one, we should be able to form collective strength to overcome all difficulties and create a brighter future.

Due to the epidemic, our outreaches are affected to some extent, but this does not hinder our communication with the institutions, the media and the public. I am closely following the fight against the epidemic in Bulgaria. The mutual support between our two countries in fighting the pandemic gives me even more confidence in the deepening of our traditional friendship. I sincerely hope that Bulgaria will tide over the epidemic soon and I wish all Bulgarian people happiness and health forever!

The  photos were provided by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Republic of Bulgaria.

Above: H. E. Mr. Dong Xiaojun, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China in the Republic of Bulgaria

First row: H. E. Mr. Dong Xiaojun; the concert of the Chinese Philharmonic Orchestra in Bulgaria Hall; participation of the Chinese ensemble in a Folklore Festival in Saint Vlas, Varna; at the Yogurt Festival in the village of Momchilovtsi.

Second  row: H. E. Mr. Dong Xiaojun with colleagues at Trifon Zarezan Day; the Rose Festival in the town of Kazanlak; Chinese embroidery course at the Chinese Cultural Center in Sofia; the book GET OUT, COVID-19, distributed  free of charge in Bulgaria in support of the anti-epidemic actions of the people.

The first part of the interview with H. E. Mr. Dong Xiaojun can be read HERE.