Seychelles leader discusses education ties

By Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-11-03 07:04

Seychelles President James Michel said the country would send more students to China to further the cultural and educational co-operation between the two countries.

He made the remark during a talk with seven Seychelles students in Beijing yesterday morning, before an official meeting with President Hu Jintao in the afternoon.

Michel asked about the students' lives, and encouraged them to value their time in China.

"Seychelles and China are having good educational and cultural co-operation," he said. "In the future, we will strengthen our friendship and take the co-operation to all levels."

Michel said China has been welcoming Seychelles students for many years, and a number of good students who studied in China are now making contributions to the national economy. "We'll definitely send more students to China in the future," he said.

China started granting scholarships to Seychellois students in 1984, according to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Last year, eight students from the Seychelles studied in China and the number has climbed to 18 this year.

Neal Servina, a Seychellois student from Beijing Language and Culture University who came to China in August, said he was very happy to see the president.

"It's a privilege. I never expected a chance to meet the president," he said. "I thought I might be scared, but we had a very comfortable talk because the president is very nice and kind."

"Seychelles is beautiful, but China is beautiful for its history, culture and architecture," Servina told China Daily. "Many Seychellois people also view China as a country with advanced technology."

Chantal Lailam, a Seychellois who has spent five years in Beijing and is now a student at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, said she hopes that Chinese troditional medicine could be a friendship bridge between the two countries.

She said Chinese traditional medicine has gained growing recognition worldwide, but very few people in the Seychelles know how to practise it.

The president also recalled the history of Chinese people in the Seychelles. He said many years ago when his country was in its early stage of development, many Chinese came as traders.

"Chinese are not strangers to the Seychelles," he said. "We even have a Chinese pagoda."

Figures from the Chinese Embassy in the Seychelles show that about 600 out of the country's 80,000 citizens are Chinese or Chinese descendants, and there has also been a small increase in the number of Chinese travellers to the country in recent years.


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