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Xi arrives in Finland for state visit

By AN BAIJIE in Helsinki | | Updated: 2017-04-05 01:26

Xi arrives in Finland for state visit

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.[Photo/Xinhua]

President Xi Jinping arrived in Helsinki on Tuesday afternoon to start a state visit that is expected to advance bilateral ties, increase political mutual trust and expand substantial cooperation between China and Finland.

"Now, as we are building and promoting a future-oriented new-type of cooperative partnership, our relationship faces new development opportunities," Xi said in his arrival statement at Helsinki Airport.

The president is visiting Finland from Tuesday to Thursday at the invitation of Finnish President Sauli Niinisto. It is the first visit by a Chinese head of state to the Nordic country for 22 years.

During his stay in Helsinki, Xi will hold talks with his Finnish counterpart, and meet with Prime Minister Juha Sipila and Speaker of the Finnish Parliament Maria Lohela.

"I look forward to meeting with President Sauli Niinisto, Speaker Maria Lohela and Prime Minister Juha Sipila, during which we will have an in-depth exchange of views on China-Finland relations and other issues of shared interest and draw the blueprint for the growth of our relations," Xi said.

In the statement, Xi extended congratulations and best wishes to the Finnish government and the country's people because this year marks the centenary of Finland's independence.

China and Finland have enjoyed a long-term friendship and history of cooperation.

Finland was one of the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China, and the first Western nation to sign an intergovernmental trade agreement with China.

China has remained Finland's largest trading partner in Asia for the past 14 years, while Finland is China's third-largest trading partner in the Nordic region.

The two countries upgraded their ties to a future-oriented new-type cooperative partnership in 2013, when Niinisto paid a state visit to China.

The two nations have cooperated in areas including high technology, clean energy, innovation and Arctic research, and further cooperation on winter sports is expected ahead of China hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

"It has set an example of friendship and win-win cooperation between countries that have different size, population, history, culture, social system and development level," Xi said in his statement.

The two countries have deepened cooperation in such areas as the economy, trade, science and technology, environmental protection, and people-to-people exchanges in recent years, he added.

"I am confident that, with the joint efforts of China and Finland, this visit will be a great success," he noted.

China's Ambassador to Finland Chen Li said: "With the concerted efforts of both countries since they forged diplomatic ties 67 years ago, the China-Finland relationship has become a model of peaceful co-existence and mutually beneficial cooperation for countries with different cultures, social systems and development levels."

Xi's visit to Finland is his first trip to a European Union member state so far this year, and is also his first visit to the Nordic region as president.

After Finland, the Chinese president will travel to Florida in the United States on Thursday and Friday for a meeting with US President Donald Trump.

It will be the first meeting between Xi and Trump as heads of state of the two biggest economies in the world.

Xinhua contributed to this story.


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