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Significance of Xi's Finland visit for bilateral ties and beyond

Editor: zhenglimin 丨Xinhua

04-06-2017 15:09 BJT

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HELSINKI, April 6 (Xinhua) -- China and Finland confirmed on Wednesday the establishment of a future-oriented new-type cooperative partnership in a joint declaration during Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to the country.

The Chinese president and his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto stressed that to build a more forward-looking and strategic bilateral relationship that keeps pace with the times is in the fundamental interests of both countries and their people.

This shows that Xi's visit transcended bilateral ties and has regional and global strategic significance.

Chinese President Xi Jinping holds talks with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto in Helsinki, Finland, April 5, 2017. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)

Chinese President Xi Jinping holds talks with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto in Helsinki, Finland, April 5, 2017. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)


Since China and Finland established diplomatic relations in 1950, bilateral ties have undergone a good, rapid development. Xi's visit undoubtedly deepened China-Finland ties and boosted bilateral cooperation.

This year marks the centenary of Finland's independence. Niinisto, the Finnish president, told Xinhua in an interview ahead of the visit that it was "a great honor to receive President Xi" on this occasion, and he was confident that the visit would deepen their friendship.

Finland was not only one of the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with China and the first Western nations to sign an intergovernmental trade agreement with China, but also one of the few Western countries that actively supported the restoration of China's lawful seat at the United Nations.

The two nations respect each other, treat each other as equals and enjoy mutually-beneficial cooperation, setting an example for countries with different social systems to develop bilateral relations.

In trade, China has remained Finland's biggest trading partner in Asia for the past 14 years, and Finland is the third largest trade partner of China in the Nordic region. And there is huge potential for the two nations to cooperate in areas like information and communications technology, clean technology and new energy.

For people-to-people exchanges, taking tourism as an example, the number of Chinese tourists spending nights in Finnish hotels in 2016 reached 225,000, up 27 percent compared to that of 2015, according to official data from Statistics Finland.

Meanwhile, the two countries' decision to promote exchanges in winter sports and cooperation in organizing the 2022 Olympic Winter Games is expected to further expand and enrich people-to-people exchanges.


China and Nordic countries enjoy good relations and share a sincere desire for cooperation. Xi's visit has propelled Sino-Finnish cooperation and is also expected to push forward China's cooperation with the Nordic sub-region, as Finland chairs the Nordic Council this year.

Meanwhile, as the European Union (EU) is facing difficulties against the backdrop of Brexit and a rise of populism in some member states, Xi's tour to Finland, the first EU member state that the Chinese president visited this year, sent a positive message that China supports European integration.

Xi's visit was the first state visit by a Chinese head of state to the Nordic country in 22 years.

Xi said in his article published in the Finnish newspaper ahead of his visit that "China is of the view that European integration is consistent with the trend of history, and a prosperous and stable Europe is conducive to world peace and development. We believe that Europe has the wisdom and capability to overcome the challenges. In this process, Europe can count on China's support."

The joint declaration said that a future-oriented new-type cooperative partnership between China and Finland is complementary to the EU comprehensive strategic partnership.

The Finnish president also said Wednesday that his country wants to strengthen communication and coordination with China on major international issues and push for an even closer cooperation between the EU and China.

In the interview with Xinhua, the president also stressed that China has been a "very clear supporter of European integration," and there is more room for EU-China cooperation.


Finland has responded positively to the China-initiated Belt and Road Initiative, and pursues cooperation under the framework.

China's Belt and Road Initiative is of great significance in promoting global connectivity, Niinisto said in the interview. "The more we are connected to each other, the better we understand each other."

"The initiative will also help promote economic growth of the EU, by boosting connections within the organization and economic links between the EU and other countries," he added.

In the joint declaration, Finland said it appreciates the initiative and supports "China and EU in promoting connectivity between Asia and Europe, building a grand Asia-Europe market and boosting the flow of people, business, capital, technology, as well as information and communication between the two continents."

Put forward by Xi in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

Currently, over 100 countries and international organizations have joined the initiative, and some 40 of them have cooperation agreements with China.

"It is very significant for everyone in the world to understand that we share a common destiny," Niinisto said, referring to the Xi-proposed concept of building "a community of common destiny for mankind."

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