Iran looks toward cultural cooperation with China

By Chen Xi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/29 21:53:40

‘BRI helps restore glory of ancient Silk Road’

Ali Asghar Mounesan, Iran's Minister of Cultural Heritage,Tourism and Handicrafts Photo: Li Hao/GT

On the ancient Silk Road, Iran, one of the countries under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), enables cultural communication between the East and the West. 

"The BRI tightly connected many amicable countries along the Silk Road, and I am very glad that Iran could join in the initiative because it is helping to restore the glory of the ancient road," Ali Asghar Mounesan, Iran's Minister of Cultural Heritage,Tourism and Handicrafts, told the Global Times.

Mounesan is in China to attend the third Ministerial Conference of the Ancient Civilizations Forum that was held in Beijing on Friday. He hoped culture and tourism development between China and Iran could be promoted.

The Chinese Embassy in Iran previously announced that Iran would waive all visa requirements for Chinese nationals from July 16, allowing Chinese nationals with transit visas to remain in Iran visa-free for 21 days, according to a report from the Xinhua News Agency. 

Mounesan said China has a huge tourism market and he hopes more Chinese tourists will visit Iran. 

Apart from tourism, Iran would also welcome cooperation with China in the preservation and restoration of cultural relics.

"China and Iran are two countries with ancient civilizations. Both have many rich world heritage sites, and we are open to learning from each other," Mounesan said, noting that preserving traditional culture in the new era is very important.

He voiced support for China's efforts to enhance its local culture, mentioning the Palace Museum's attempts to develop creative cultural industries to attract young people. Iran is also trying to keep its traditional culture alive through various art forms including film, drama, traditional clothes and handicrafts. 

"I am very happy that some [handicraft] experts are young people, and they do like their jobs. In fact, Iran has become one of the largest exporters of handicrafts in the world. Last year, exports of handicrafts in Iran reached $600 million, and we want to set a target of $2 billion," Mounesan said. 

He criticized some Western countries that do not have an ancient cultural background but are trying to create a kind of new culture, which is influencing the younger generation and causing traditional culture to be ignored. 

"We have realized the phenomenon of cultural hegemony, but fortunately, more and more young people know their root culture. For example, art majors in universities are very popular among students. However, we still need more talks to face the cultural wave," he said. 


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