President Xi pledges to bolster ties with Belgium, EU
Updated: 2014-03-30 15:18
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China is looking forward to enhance its relations with Belgium and other countries of the European Union, said President Xi Jinping on Sunday.
Since the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership between China and EU in 2003, their relationship has made much headway and grown into one of the most important bilateral ties in the world, said Xi upon his arrival to Brussels, the last stop of his 11-day visit to Europe.
Xi also pledged that China will "give priority" to the Sino-EU ties on its diplomatic agenda and firmly support European integration in order to elevate the bilateral relations to new heights.
Being the first Chinese head of state visiting Belgium in the past 27 years, the Chinese president is slated to attend ceremonial events by Belgium King Philippe, meet local officials and sign cooperation agreements covering economy and trade, science and technology, telecommunication and education.
Belgium is China's sixth largest trading partner in EU. The bilateral trade volume has grown by more than 1,000 times over the past 43 years.
Mutual investment has also increased in recent years. China's direct investment in Belgium rose nearly 10 folds over the past five years, creating more jobs locally.
Xi hailed the Sino-Belgium diplomatic relations of the past four decades and was optimistic on future growth.
"In recent years, in particular, China-Belgium relations have picked up a sound development momentum, as both sides have a stronger will to deepen their cooperation. I hope I will be able to have an in-depth exchange of views with Belgian leaders and extensive contacts with people from all sectors, so as to enhance mutual understanding and friendship," he said.
During his stay in Brussels, Xi will also visit the EU headquarters, becoming the first Chinese head of state to visit the EU headquarters since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1975.
Xi will hold talks with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and meet European Parliament President Martin Schulz and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Since the establishment of the China-EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, two-way trade has quadrupled, reaching $559.1 billion in 2013. Every year, 5.5 million mutual visits are made by Chinese and Europeans. The number of Chinese students in the EU and students from EU countries in China has exceeded 270,000.
China and Europe are two markets that promote common development. As the largest developing country, China contributes close to 30 percent of world economic growth. As the largest economy, the EU's GDP has reached 16.7 trillion dollars.
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