China has built a state-of-the-art school in Yerevan where hundreds of Armenian children will study the Chinese language in addition to subjects taught in secondary and high schools across Armenia.
The Chinese-Armenian Friendship School was inaugurated on Wednesday at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Chinese Ambassador Tian Erlong.
Officials said that the Chinese government has spent over $12 million on building and equipping the school located in Yerevan’s northern Kanaker suburb. It is designed for up to 405 students aged between 10 and 18 who will have intensive language courses taught by Chinese teachers.
“Knowledge of Chinese opens up opportunities to access information about a huge layer of human history and civilization,” Pashinian said at the ceremony. “I hope that this school will become a channel through which Armenians will gain more in-depth knowledge of the enormous influence which China and Chinese civilization have had on the development of humankind.”
The educational institution, Pashinian went on, is also opening a “new page” in Chinese-Armenian relations which should now grow closer. China and Armenia have “many common interests” and like “strategic thinking,” he said.
Pashinian said that having many Chinese speakers is also an “economic necessity” for Armeniagiven a rising number of Chinese tourists visiting the country. Chinese investors are likewise showing a growing interest in the Armenian economy, he added.
According to official Armenian statistics, China has been Armenia’s second largest trading partner for the last several years. Chinese-Armenian trade soared by nearly 50 percent, to $342 million, in the first half of this year.
Political relations between the two nations have been cordial ever since Armenia gained independence in 1991. Chinese President Xi Jinping and his then Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian reported “mutual understanding on issues relating to pivotal interests and concerns of the two countries” after holding talks in Beijing in 2015.
Beijing further underscored its interest in the South Caucasus country last year when it started building a new and much bigger building for its embassy in Yerevan. The 40,000-square-meter embassy compound is due to be completed by the end of 2019. It will reportedly be the second largest Chinese diplomatic mission in the former Soviet Union.
China has provided at least $37 million in economic assistance to Armenia since 2012. It has also donated hundreds of public buses and ambulance vehicles to Yerevan. “The Armenian people highly appreciate that assistance,” said Pashinian.