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Xi's visit deepens cooperation of China and Czech

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

03-30-2016 11:23 BJT

By Miroslav Atanasov, Ph.D., Renmin University of China

Chinese president Xi Jinping pays a three-day state visit to the Czech Republic on March 28-30, 2016. It's Xi's first visit to the Central-Eastern Europe (CEE) region since he took office in 2013.

 

It is also the first visit of a Chinese head of state since diplomatic ties were established between the two countries 67 years ago. Officials and experts believe this historic visit will usher in a new stage in China-Czech relations in particular, as well as China-CEE relations in general.

In spite of its small population - 10.5 million people, the Czech Republic is important because of its strategic location in the heartland of Europe and its strong industrial foundations.

It offers great potential for cooperation with China in manufacturing, nuclear power, infrastructure building, finance, health care, science and technology, and culture. During the visit, a number of agreements were signed in these areas.

China is the Czech Republic's largest trading partner outside the European Union and Czech has been China's second largest trade partner in the CEE region for many years.

Bilateral trade between China and the Czech Republic reached 11 billion USD in 2015. Companies from both countries have cooperated with major investments and developed strong partnerships.

During the '16+1' meeting in November 2015, Prague and Beijing signed an intergovernmental MOU on cooperation in the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative project; the Czechs are interested in construction of a high-speed rail network that China can provide.

2015 also witnessed the founding of a research center for traditional Chinese medicine and the opening of a direct flight between Prague and Beijing.

People-to-people exchanges have also been impressive. In 2015 more than 300,000 Chinese tourists visited the Czech Republic. There is also much potential for cooperation in film and TV production, as well as in sports.

During the state visit, Xi  met with Czech President Milos Zeman, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Chairman of the Senate Milan Stech, Chamber of Deputies Chairman Jan Hamacek, and Prague Mayor Adriana Krnacova.

Prior to the visit, President Xi sent an article stating his plan for the bilateral relations between the two countries titled, "Time to Renew and Energize China-Czech Ties." The article was published in the Czech media group, Pravo Daily.

"The Czech Republic is known for picturesque landscape, rich cultural heritage and talented people. I visited this country in the 1990s and was impressed by the hard work and ingenuity of the Czech people.

This is an opportune time for the development of the China-Czech relations. I look forward to working with Czech leaders to enhance bilateral relations and push for new progress in '16+1' cooperation and China-EU relations," Xi said.

For his part, Czech President Milos Zeman, who since his election in 2013 has been active in promoting closer Czech relations with  China. Zeman and Xi Jinping have met four times since then.

President Zeman paid a state visit to China in October, 2014 and again in September, 2015, attended the military parade in Beijing commemorating the 70th anniversary of victories of the Chinese People's Resistance against Japanese Aggression and World War II; he was the only Western leader to do so.

President Xi's ongoing visit marks an important step in China's relations with Central and Eastern Europe, which according to Xi are based on "mutual respect, mutual benefit, inclusiveness, and openness."

The '16+1' format platform has succeeded in building those relations. Deeper cooperation with Beijing will be beneficial to the region.

Therefore, it would be good for other leaders to follow Zeman's example in gradually moving away from the shadows of Brussels and Washington, and making major foreign policy steps that will benefit their national interests.

Strengthening cooperation with China will undoubtedly be one such step.

 

Miroslav Atanasov, Ph.D., Renmin University of China

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

 

 

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