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So far, I have been with the Chinese delegation accompanying Vice-Premier Li Keqiang for two official visits overseas. The first was to Hong Kong, and this time, to Russia, Hungary and Belgium.
Last time was quick, only three days. And this time, we are almost halfway through, with the entire trip lasting 10 days.
During these trips, even though they have been short, the vice-premier, who is in his 50s, has impressed me very much not only with his charisma and wisdom, but also with his consideration, sense of humor and his language skills.
When he made a speech in fluent English at the University of Hong Kong for the celebration of its 100th anniversary, we were surprised, if not shocked, by his capacity for communicating.
And this time, his easy-going manner continued to be displayed. No matter where he was, whether he was speaking at the China-Russia investment and trade promotion forum or making a speech at Moscow State University, his "спасибо!" (Russian for thanks) at the end always won warm applause.
“He is so kind and enthusiastic. I am so impressed that he cares for Russian youth and China-Russia relations,” said Markovskaya Anna, an 18-year-old freshman at Moscow State Institute of International Relations, who attended a small gathering with Li.
Li’s visit comes hot on the heels of the official visits to Europe by some other high- level officials of the Chinese government in recent days, including Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who had just wrapped up his visit to four European nations, including Iceland and Sweden.
This shows China’s concerns about the region, the nation’s largest trade partner, which is still troubled by debt woes.
Li’s is scheduled to arrive in Hungary on Monday.
He was warmly welcomed in Russia during his meetings with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
I was present during his meeting with Putin. When Li made his opening remarks, Putin was listening very carefully and looking straight and seriously into Li’s eyes, making notes frequently, which isn’t Putin’s usual practice and which shows his concern and full respect for Li. And the bilateral talks lasted for almost two hours, one hour longer than scheduled.
Li’s arrival in Hungary will coincide with the country’s national holiday. But this does not reduce the zeal by the Eastern European nation in hosting Li.
Both the president and prime minister will meet Li. And it was reported that all circles in Hungary are highly expecting Li’s arrival.
He always wears smiles, carrying strong sense of humor.
He cares much about cultural exchanges, although economic issues are always a major part of the visit. He spent half a day with students from Moscow State University and veteran Russian soldiers who participated in World War II.
His impromptu speech in the university, in which he started from the first visit to the school and went through the trend of global situation and finally dwelt down on the China-Russian relations in economy, politics and cultural exchanges, won more than 20 waves of applause, and the 1,245-seat grand hall were crowded with 1,600 students.
Obviously, these were not organized.
The president of the university was so pleased that he invited Li to visit the university again and make another speech on global economic issues.
Li himself carefully prepared a package of gifts for the veteran soldiers he met in Moscow, which included a bottle of liquor, a box of green tea and a computer. They shouted for joy, surrounding him and chatting with him on all sorts of subjects, from history to China-Russia relations and health, after the meeting.
He is very good at visualizing serious things and turning serious dialogues or talks into interesting interactions.
When he met Russian businessmen in Moscow, he mentioned the World University Games that Russia will hold in 2013, connecting the Olympics to the spirit of sport and further to the business cooperation between China and Russia.
“The spirit of striving to become better and stronger in sports could be well leveraged to promote the China-Russian cooperation in business,” he said.
China is now the second- largest economy and the largest exporter worldwide. Despite the financial crisis and European debt woes, China’s economic power is rising.
And while China is getting stronger and stronger, some say that China’s growing competitiveness hurts itself.
As the vice-premier, Li’s efforts to try to get closer to the local people abroad touches their hearts, paving the way for China’s foreign relations, and his sincerity and easy-going manner will probably alleviate their worries and change their ideas.
You can contact the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org