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Impending visit stirs up fond memories of both Xi and China

By Fu Jing in Helsinki | | Updated: 2017-04-04 14:22

Sanna Lauslahti has fond memories of the time her husband lived and worked in Shanghai and she visited him there regularly. She couldnot leave her job in Finland back then, but greatly enjoyed her China visits.

"I have so many beautiful memories from that time," said Lauslahti, who spoke ahead of President Xi Jinping's arrival in Finland on Tuesday. She said she loved the atmosphere of Shanghai and almost everything about China - except the pollution.

When Lauslahti moved from business to politics and became a member of the Finnish Parliament in 2007, she was able to turn her passion for China into efforts to "bring China into the Finnish Parliament" by organizing a series of activities.

"Even this morning, we had Chinese lessons and six of my colleagues attended," said Lauslahti, who heads the China-Finland friendship group in Parliament. "I aim to introduce China to those who have not visited the country." Finland was one of the earliest Western countries to establish diplomatic relationships with China - in 1950 - and a delegation from the Finnish Parliament visited China for the first time in 1956.

Ahead of Xi's visit, Lauslahti said she was expecting China's president to deepen bilateral relations and find new areas for cooperation between the two countries.

Xi will meet Maria Lohela, speaker of the Finnish Parliament, and Lauslahti will attend the meeting. Lauslahti said education and health are two areas in which Finland could share its experience with China.

"Personalized medicine and health are big things for Finnish people and we have done a lot of work in this area," she said. Lauslahti said Finland is also willing to work as a bridge-builder between China and the European Union.

"I hope China and the EU can be useful partners, and deepen their relationships in the future," she said. Lauslahti said she met Xi during his visit to Finland nearly seven years ago, when he was vice-president of China.

"I remember he is a gentle, polite, and warm person," said Lauslahti. "I possibly won't have the chance to talk with him this time, but I do hope China and Finland can have more deep, open, and trustful relations in the future."

As to Xi's meeting with United States President Donald Trump after Xi's visit to Finland, Lauslahti said the biggest global players should inject impetus to stimulate the global economy and speed up growth.

"Of course, climate change and global peace should also top their agenda," said Lauslahti.

Zheng Jinqiang and Zhang Zhaoqing in Brussels contributed to the story.

Impending visit stirs up fond memories of both Xi and China

Sanna Lauslahti, member of the Finnish Parliament. [Photo by Fu Jing/]

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