Feature: Mayor keeps flame of Malta-China friendship alive-Xinhua

Feature: Mayor keeps flame of Malta-China friendship alive

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2022-06-15 21:54:14

VALLETTA, June 15 (Xinhua) -- When David Michael Schembri worked with a group of Chinese construction divers during the building of a breakwater in Malta in the 1980s, little did he know that he would fall in love with China, its people and culture. Now Mayor of Qrendi, Schembri wants to share this passion with the residents of the southern Maltese town.

Schembri never misses an event organized by the China Cultural Centre in Malta, and works hard to spread the word among his residents and beyond.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, the 70-year-old recalled the construction of the breakwater in Marsaxlokk, on the southern tip of the island.

Schembri was a commercial diver at the time and had been asked to speed up the project. A Chinese company was entrusted with the building of the breakwater, and Schembri was in charge of overseeing the underwater construction works.

"The Chinese are very hard workers. They are very obedient, very serious and they will try extremely hard to meet targets," he said, adding that they had managed to cut the delivery date of the project by several years.

"They built a reputation for being good engineers, good workers, good technical supervisors, and good coordinators," Schembri said. "They worked as a remarkable team."

The breakwater led to the creation of the Malta Freeport, a strategically-located hub at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, which welcomed over 1,550 container ships in 2020.

Schembri added: "To make friends with the Chinese was very easy, as they are very peace-loving, fun-loving people and they love to share whatever little they have."

His love for China, its people and culture has further deepened since his first trip to the country to attend the first summit of the World Agritourism Cities (Districts) Union. The event was held in October 2013 in Changsha, the capital of central China's Hunan Province. Schembri said he was deeply impressed by the remarkable progress and hard work he saw during his stay in China.

Since he became mayor of Qrendi in 2013, Schembri has taken every opportunity to invite Chinese artists to perform there. He was proud that in January 2017 a troupe of acrobats from China was invited to perform in Qrendi through the cooperation with the China Cultural Centre.

Schembri also introduces Chinese culture to other Maltese municipalities on the island.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted visits from Chinese artists to Malta, Schembri has used the internet to present performances by Chinese artists to residents via his social media accounts.

He makes sure he does not miss a Chinese cultural event, saying: "Every time there is an opportunity, I will go open-heartedly as there is always something nice to discover whether it is culture, song, dance or acrobatic performances."

On the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Malta and China, Schembri spoke highly of the very strong ties that have been built between the two nations, adding he hoped these would grow even stronger.

"We are helping each other. We are helping you understand us and you are helping us understand you," he said.