ISTANBUL  -    A total of 37 Turkish university students were awarded scholarships on Friday for their outstanding study of the Chinese language. Cui Wei, the Chinese consul general in Istanbul, presented the prizes to the students from more than 10 universities and institutions at a ceremony. Beyaz Nur Gurdur, a freshwoman from Okan University, spoke of the scholarships as a recognition of what the students have achieved in Chinese learning as well as an encouragement and spur in their future studies. “As a learner of the Chinese language, I think I have a promising future,” she said at the ceremony, referring to closer cooperation on economic and cultural exchanges among Turkey, China and other countries under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

Meanwhile, 36 Chinese students studying at Turkish universities were also granted the scholarships set up by the Chinese consulate general in 2017. Addressing the ceremony, Cui said Turkey and China have established a big platform for joint projects in a wide range of sectors, improving bilateral cooperation even further.

“There is a significant demand for Chinese-speaking Turkish people,” he said, noting those who can speak Chinese become very advantageous on the platform.

For his part, Ismail Gultekin, a deputy governor of Istanbul, praised the courage of Turkish students in learning Chinese and voiced hope for their number to continue to increase in the future.

“What we need the most are people who have mastered both languages,” he said, noting the demand is particularly high in the field of tourism as more and more Chinese tourists are visiting the country.

Gultekin also stressed that as China is a great civilization with a great culture, learning about the country should not be limited to its language alone.

Ebru Ural, the rector of Dogus University, said learning a country’s language and its culture is essential to find solutions to global problems which require global cooperation.