Business / Economy

Chinese president's Czech visit to add impetus to bilateral ties, '16+1' cooperation

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-03-31 17:14

BRUSSELS - Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the Czech Republic will strengthen relations between the two countries and promote the "16+1" cooperation, Luigi Gambardella, president of ChinaEU, a business-led association, told Xinhua in an interview on Wednesday.

Xi on Wednesday concluded a historic three-day state visit to the Czech Republic and left for Washington to attend the fourth Nuclear Security Summit.

The two sides had in-depth exchange of views on bilateral ties, China-EU relations, cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, and international and regional issues of common concern. A broad consensus has been reached.

Gambardella said he is confident that Xi's visit to the Czech Republic will greatly boost mutual trust, deepen the economic cooperation between the two sides and raise their bilateral relations to a new height.

During the visit, China and the Czech Republic issued a joint statement on lifting their relations to a strategic partnership, which Xi hopes will "renew and energize the development of the China-Czech ties."

Meanwhile, a series of intergovernmental agreements to promote relations in various areas were signed, including cooperation in digital economy, finance, aviation and the healthcare sector.

"China showed a strong willingness to work with the Czech Republic to boost air connectivity, further cooperate in the construction of high-speed railways, roads and bridges, and continue to collaborate in such areas as telecommunications, smart industry, automobile, aviation, nano-technology and nuclear power," Gambardella said.

The Czech Republic is looking forward to linking its development plan of further cooperation with China to the Belt and Road Initiative, and is willing to play a crucial role in China's effort to develop its ties with the EU and become a transport, logistics and financial hub in Europe for the Silk Road Economic Belt, Gambardella added.

China is the Czech Republic's second-biggest trading partner, next to the EU, while the Czech Republic is China's second-biggest trading partner in Central and Eastern Europe. The Czech Republic is also one of China's main investment destinations in Central and Eastern Europe.

The Czech Republic is "hoping to finally get a bigger slice of the Chinese investment cake after long lagging behind neighbors such as Poland and Hungary," said Gambardella.

According to him, the visit will also lend great impetus for the "16+1" cooperation, or the cooperation between China and the 16 CEE countries.

Located at the heart of Central and Eastern Europe, the Czech Republic is one of the most developed countries in the region and it has actively supported and participated in China-CEE cooperation.

Gambardella said the historic visit will not only bring a "bright new era" for cooperation between China and the CEE countries, but also enhance relations between China and the European Union.

All 16 CEE countries are seated along the route of the Belt and Road Initiative, while 11 of them (including the Czech Republic) are EU members.

Gambardella said that China is a major economic partner of the EU, and the Czech Republic is committed to becoming a gateway for China to the EU.

"It is clear to both countries that the China-CEE cooperation and the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership are complimentary to each other, and should thus be carried on in parallel," Gambardella said.

ChinaEU is a business-led association that aims to strengthen joint research and business collaboration and investment in the Internet, telecommunications and high-tech between China and Europe.

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