New support for Mediterranean studies

With the establishment of an institute on the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Zhejiang International Studies University intends to get more support for Chinese scholars studying the region’s social, economic and cultural issues.

“The Mediterranean Rim is somehow a new field for the academic world to explore, which means more efforts should be ramped up,” said Yang Fuchang, former deputy foreign minister of China at the inauguration ceremony on Saturday in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. The Institute for Studies on the Mediterranean Rim, or ISMR, is the first of its kind in China.

Nearly 50 scholars from China and the Mediterranean region have been appointed to be advisers and researchers at the institute.

“Connectivity emerges as one of the key concepts of the 21st century and the region around the Mediterranean Sea is playing a significant role in global economy, peace and security,” Doga Olmez, vice consul with the Consulate General of Republic of Turkey in Shanghai, said at the institute’s inauguration ceremony.

Ma Xiaolin, a professor of Zhejiang International Studies University and director of the new institute, said ISMR will serve as a think tank to help cultivate more professionals and lead China’s research into the Mediterranean region.

The Mediterranean region refers to the lands circling the Mediterranean Sea. The 21 countries belong to the continents of Africa, Asia and Europe. The sea is a pivotal point along the ancient Silk Road and has bred colorful cultures. The region is considered one of the cradles of the world’s civilizations due to its long history and profound culture.

“The increasing economic exchanges and cooperation between China and Europe are offering the region new opportunities to enhance its profile in international trade,” Olmez noted.

She said her country will work closely with China under the auspices of the Belt and Road Initiative and explore effective means to connect countries around the sea to keep it a symbol of creativity and vitality.

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Qin Jirong contributed to this story.

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