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Interview: Mexican city of Merida courts Chinese tourism, inv

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By Xinhua Writers Pei Jianrong and Edna Alcantara

MERIDA, Mexico, April 11 (Xinhua) -- The southeastern Mexican city of Merida, capital of Yucatan state, is looking to draw more Chinese tourists and investment, according to its mayor, Renan Alberto Barrera.

"Merida is a city that has all the conditions" to become a leading tourism and investment destination for China, Barrera told Xinhua in an interview.

To promote Mexico's "White City", as Merida is known, Barrera is considering opening up a special office to cater exclusively to Chinese visitors and investors, and strengthen existing ties of friendship between the two peoples.

The mayor is set to travel in June to Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, to attend a gathering of mayors and begin promoting Merida to Chinese.

Meanwhile, city officials are studying Mandarin to better attend to visiting Chinese tourists, as well as exchange students, so "they feel comfortable," the mayor said.

The Yucatan Peninsula Chinese Language Center, founded in 2015 by the Yucatan Peninsula Chinese Association, has taught hundreds of students, from local government officials to hotel receptionists, travel agents and Mexicans of Chinese descent.

Learning Mandarin helps "bring China under the focus" of city officials, and makes it easier to spur cultural and artistic exchanges, said Barrera.

"We are very clear about the weight, the importance of what cultural and artistic exchange means, that's why we are trying to generate more conditions" for it, the mayor said.

Merida is a safe city in many respects, including in legal aspects, he said, noting "there is legal certainty and confidence."

Geographically speaking, the city is also well positioned to access Asian and European markets, a key convenience for trade, he said.

The mayor also invited Chinese investors to explore the state's investment potential in such sectors as technology, automobiles, aerospace and others.

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