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Interview: Chinese premier's visit to open new chapter for China-Mongolia ties, further ASEM development -- ambassador

Editor: Chen Yue 丨Xinhua

07-12-2016 16:09 BJT

Full coverage: Premier Li Visits Mongolia, Attends ASEM

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ULAN BATOR, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's upcoming visit to Mongolia will add momentum to bilateral cooperation and further the development of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) mechanism, a Chinese diplomat has said.

At the invitation of Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat, Li will pay an official visit to Mongolia from Wednesday to Thursday and attend the 11th ASEM summit in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator from Friday to Saturday.

Li's visit to Mongolia will be the first by a Chinese premier in six years and the first by a foreign leader since the recent parliamentary elections and the formation of a new government in Mongolia, Chinese Ambassador to Mongolia Xing Haiming told Xinhua.

Li's visit comes as China-Mongolia relations are facing important opportunities for development, Xing said. "It is expected to be a trip that carries on the past heritage and open up the future. The Mongolian people are eagerly looking forward to Li's visit."

Xing said that China and Mongolia are good neighbors that share a 4,710-km border line and they upgraded bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership -- the highest rank in Mongolia's diplomatic relations -- during Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Mongolia in 2014.

The two countries have deepened their relations in recent years in political mutual trust, cooperation in economy and trade as well as people-to-people exchanges, the ambassador said.

Since the normalization of bilateral relations in the 1990s, leaders of the two countries have held frequent meetings, Xing said, adding that China has always highlighted its respect for Mongolia's sovereignty and independence while Mongolia considers its relations with China as a top priority.

China has been Mongolia's biggest trade partner and main source of investment for many years, with Mongolia's trade with China accounting for more than 60 percent of its total foreign trade volume, Xing said.

The two countries have set up intergovernmental cooperation commissions in science and technology, mineral resources and interconnectivity, aiming for a goal of 10 billion U.S. dollars in bilateral trade by 2020.

On people-to-people exchanges, Xing said that there were 1.5 million people traveling between China and Mongolia in 2015, among which 1 million Mongolians -- one third of its population -- visited China.

A series of famous Chinese films and TV dramas translated in the Mongolian language, which China provided for free to Mongolia this year, have proven to be popular in the country, Xing said.

With the Chinese Culture Center in Ulan Bator and Confucius Institutes in Mongolia exerting positive influence, cultural exchanges between China and Mongolia have been active and the Mongolian people are having increasingly deeper feelings toward China, Xing said.

Currently, China and Mongolia are accelerating the strategic synergy between China's Belt and Road Initiative and Mongolia's Steppe Road plan and actively promoting cooperation in production capacity, so as to realize win-win results and common development, the diplomat said, urging the two countries to explore new areas and space for cooperation.

China in 2013 proposed to build the Silk Road Economic Belt, which links China with Europe through Central and Western Asia by inland routes, and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road connecting China with Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe by sea. The Belt and Road Initiative is aimed at promoting policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, trade and financial integration as well as cultural exchanges.

The Steppe Road plan is an infrastructure construction proposal aimed at boosting the Mongolian economy through trans-border transportation.

"Li's visit is expected to point out the direction and lay the foundation for the two countries' all-round cooperation in a variety of areas," Xing said.

Li's visit also comes as ASEM celebrates the 20th anniversary of the birth of the dialogue mechanism.

As Mongolia's good neighbor, friend and partner, China has provided support for Mongolia in hosting the ASEM summit, Xing said, adding that Premier Li's attendance at the summit is the biggest political support for Mongolia and represents high-level bilateral ties.

China will put forward a proposal to promote peaceful cooperation and common development of Asian and European countries at the summit, he added.

"I am convinced that Li's visit will yield fruits, push forward the China-Mongolia relations to a new height and contribute to guiding the Asia-Europe Meeting dialogue to a right path," Xing said.

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