BEIRUT: China’s ambassador to Lebanon reiterated his country’s support for Lebanon’s stability and sovereignty Friday as his government opened a new visa application center in Beirut’s Verdun. Speaking to The Daily Star at the event that followed a meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon, Ambassador Wang Kejian said, “We heard the introduction from President [Michel Aoun] about what’s going on and what the Lebanese side want from the international community, and we responded that the ISG countries and organizations fully support Lebanon in its efforts to maintain its stability, sovereignty and integrity.”
The ambassador expressed hope that further high-level meetings could lead to an improvement in the situation. “Hopefully it will come to a result and we should restore stability in Lebanon, which is to the benefit of all sides.”
Turning to the new visa application center, Wang said, “Last year we gave 11,000 Chinese visas to Lebanese applicants. The visa section in the embassy is very small, and it cannot meet the needs of Lebanese applicants ... so we cooperate with [diplomatic outsourcing company VFS Global] to set up this visa application center.”
The center is one of 10 operated in Lebanon by VFS Global for a number of embassies. Vinay Malhotra, chief operating officer for VFS Global in the Middle East and South Africa, told The Daily Star, “We are anticipating over 1,000 people every month to go from here to China ... that should only increase in the ... future.”
Regarding VFS’s presence in the region, Malhotra said, “We serve 10 governments in Lebanon, and across the Middle East we serve 33 governments ... More and more countries should be opening up their representation in Lebanon and we will do our best to [serve] the people for overseas travel.”
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 11, 2017, on page 3.