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Xi starts trip in Finland

By Fu Jing and Wang Mingjie in Helsinki | China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-05 07:14

President lauded for 'deep thinking'; talks to include trade, climate change

Praising President Xi Jinping for his levelheaded and deep thinking, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said he was pleased at the chance for them to discuss free trade and the Paris climate change agreement.

Xi, who arrived in Helsinki on Tuesday evening, is making a state visit to Finland until Thursday. It is his first visit to Northern Europe as China's head of state.

"It is a short visit," Niinisto said in an exclusive interview with China Daily on Monday, but Finland will do its "best" to make the distinguished visitor and his wife "feel at home".

Niinisto said in the interview at Helsinki's presidential palace that he expects the two nations' relationship to be elevated to a new level.

Four years ago, during his visit to China, Niinisto said he agreed with Xi that a new kind of strategic partnership was needed between the countries.

"What we have seen in concrete terms is a lot of development in business, but also in our political contacts," he said, looking back on his first meeting with China's president since Xi became head of state in 2013.

Niinisto said he has a solid relationship with Xi. "It has been my great honor to meet him several times," Niinisto said, adding he was impressed by Xi's "deep thinking".

"It is great to have such a leader," and it is important for leaders to have contact with each other at a time when the world faces a range of problems, he said.

"Now that President Xi is continuing from here to the United States, I think the whole world is looking at how that visit will go," he said.

Niinisto said he appreciated the points Xi raised at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this year and especially his attitude toward free trade. He said Xi's opinions are similar to those of the European Union and Finland, which he said are both strong supporters of free trade. Finland joined the EU in 1995.

Niinisto also emphasized the importance of maintaining the Paris agreement, another area in which China and the EU share similar views.

"Apart from other questions, these are very big ones and how we enhance that kind of thinking is important," Niinisto said. "That is also one reason why we are so eager to see what is going to happen."

He said cooperation in green technology is one area in which the nations may work together closely.

"Innovation in clean tech is quite important because it is essential with urbanization still booming in China."

Chinese companies want to invest in Finland, he said, and are especially interested in renewable energy.

Contact the writers at fujing@chinadaily.com.cn.

Zheng Jinqiang in Brussels contributed to this story.

 Xi starts trip in Finland

President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, arrive at Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland, on Tuesday for a state visit. He will meet with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.Lehtikuva/antti Aimokoivisto/ Via Reuters

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