The People's Republic of China is expected to open its first diplomatic mission in the Kurdistan Region by the end of this year.
Currently there are 27 foreign and diplomatic representations in Erbil, including four of the five permanent United Nations Security Council members.
The opening of a consulate-general was discussed at a meeting today between China's Ambassador to Iraq, Mr Ni Jian, and the Kurdistan Regional Government's Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir. They also discussed China's sport initiatives and the continued growth in business ties between China and Kurdistan.
Both sides discussed the progress Kurdistan Region is making in reaching out to the international community and in the rich investment opportunities the region has to offer. Minister Mustafa said, "I am pleased to hear the developments we are making with establishing your Consulate General in Erbil, and I am confident that this presence will take this relationship further. "He added, "There are many different fields we can build relations in, and the KRG is committed to enhancing this relationship."
The Chinese ambassador reaffirmed his country's interest in establishing a strong diplomatic presence in the Kurdistan Region to promote political, economic and cultural ties. He also spoke about the need to enhance links between educational institutions, creating sports initiatives and promoting people-to-people ties.
He said, "The number of visas we have issued in Baghdad shows more and more people from Iraq and the Kurdistan Region want to visit China to promote business ties."
They also touched on areas that the Kurdistan Region can benefit from, such as China’s knowledge and experience in sports. Minister Mustafa encouraged the Ambassador to further promote training programmes and initiatives between KRG and the Chinese government and to support the exchange of visits between both sides.
China currently has two table tennis coaches in the Kurdistan Region training Kurdish members of the Iraqi national team. Their training will last for a year.
The officials also discussed the recent increase in violence in Iraq, upcoming elections in Kurdistan and Iraq, as well as the Kurdish national congress, a conference of representatives of all parts of greater Kurdistan that is due to take place shortly.
The meeting was attended Mr Karwan Jamal, Deputy Head of DFR; Ms Siham Jabali, Assistant Head of DFR, as well as several advisors and officials from the Department of Foreign Relations. Ambassador Jian was accompanied by Shen Huiyong, Commercial Counsellor, and commercial and political attaches.