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A nexus of travel, education and bilateral relations

Updated: 2024-06-08 12:02 ( China Daily )
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As Central Asia emerges as a new hot spot for Chinese tourists, a reciprocal surge of curiosity toward China is flourishing among Central Asian people. Bolstered by the visa-free policy, more tourists from the region are flocking to China, and an increasing number of its young people are taking up Chinese-language studies and seizing opportunities for education and careers in China.

Ardak Akymhan, a longtime resident of Almaty in Kazakhstan who is from Hami, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, has noticed the increasing curiosity about China among local Kazakhs.

"Many of my (Kazakh) friends have expressed an interest in visiting China," she said. "They want to experience Hainan's island atmosphere, tour Beijing's Forbidden City and explore the cityscapes of Guangzhou and Shanghai.

"With the new visa-free policy, I think more and more people will travel to China."

The numbers bear her out — Kazakhstan is now the top source of tourists to Xinjiang, with a staggering year-on-year increase of 886.75 percent, People's Daily reported.

For young people in Central Asia, China is more than a travel destination — it is a promising option for education and career opportunities. From 2010 to 2018, the number of Central Asian students in China grew at an average annual rate of 12.33 percent, making China a leading destination for students from the region, according to statistics on China.org.cn.

Qian Shihao, 29, an analyst from Shanghai, observed this during his 15-day journey to Central Asia.

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