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A Journey of Friendship, Cooperation and Culture – Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun Sums Up Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's Trip to 5 European Countries

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping paid official visits to Belgium, Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania between Oct. 7 and Oct. 21, 2009 on invitation. During his visits, he attended the opening ceremonies of the "Europalia-Chinese Art Festival and the Frankfurt Book Fair and the activities with Chinese being the Guest of Honor. As Vice President Xi ended his official visits to Europe, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun introduced the major outcome of the visits to the journalists accompanying Vice President Xi on the tour.

Zhang said that Vice President Xi's European tour was another major diplomatic action taken by China in the context that the international situation was undergoing significant and profound changes, the China-Europe relations were resuming the momentum of growth, and the relationships between China and the five European countries were facing new opportunities. It was also an important external exchange event following the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, during which the leaders of China had in-depth discussions and exchange views with the leaders of the five European countries over bilateral, regional and international issues. The five countries accorded great importance to Xi's visits and treated him with high protocol and warm hospitality. During the visits, Xi had talks and meetings with the leaders of the five countries and reached out extensively to the people and friends from business, cultural, educational, local, and other communities. He attended bilateral business forums, fairs, workshops, meetings, and the seminar for the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Romania and delivered important speeches. He also met José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.

Zhang said that the tour was characterized by a tight schedule, wide-ranging topics, and remarkable outcome. It enhanced mutual political trust, traditional friendship, and pragmatic cooperation between China and the five European countries and strengthened the cultural and people-to-people exchange between China and Europe. During the tour, Xi also introduced China's policies and positions on the international financial crisis and climate change and the achievements of China over the past 6 decades. It is a successful journey of friendship, cooperation and culture, which boosted the comprehensive development of China-Europe relationships.

Inheriting past traditions, breaking new grounds for the future, consolidating friendship, and driving the healthy and steady growth of bilateral relations and China-Europe relationships

Zhang said that the relationship between China and Belgium was resuming the momentum of growth. Different communities in Belgium had strong aspirations to cooperate with China. Germany held the general election in the latter half of September. The coalition led by Chancellor Angela Merkel won the election. The China-Germany relationship was facing new opportunities. 2009 also marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the three countries: Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. The traditional friendly cooperation between China and the three countries was facing new opportunities of moving upward a higher level on the basis of the past achievements. During the tour, Xi also exchanged views with the leaders of the five countries on bilateral relations and China-Europe relationships, expressed China's aspirations to push forward China-Europe relationships and consolidate mutual political trust and friendly relations between China and European countries on the basis of mutual respect, equal treatment and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.

During his visit to Belgium, Xi said that China always accorded importance to China-Belgium relationship and China hoped to join hands with Belgium to execute the important consensus that had been reached, consolidate mutual political trust, deepen pragmatic cooperation, and strive for new progress of bilateral relationship. During his visit to Germany, Xi pointed out that the substantial progress of China-Germany relationship and the expanded mutual beneficial cooperation in various areas had really brought about tangible benefits to the two sides and the two peoples. China and Germany should stand from the present and look forward to the future in handling bilateral relationship. The two countries should also deepen bilateral cooperation and strengthen multilateral exchange. China had full confidence in the prospect of China-Germany relationship. During his visits to Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, Xi reviewed and summed up the history and course of the traditional friendship between China and the three countries and appreciated the three countries for immediate recognition of new China after its founding. The Chinese government and people would never forget that. Xi also proposed a series of recommendations for consolidating traditional friendship, deepening mutually beneficial cooperation and advancing China-Europe relationships.

Zhang pointed out that all countries extended warm welcome to Vice President Xi and congratulated on the exceptional accomplishments achieved by China in the past 60 years since the founding and the cerebration of the 60th anniversary of China. They expressed complete agreement with Xi's proposals and recommendations on developing bilateral ties and spoke highly of the position of China in handling the international financial crisis and climate change. Belgium accorded high-protocol reception to Vice President Xi. Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy held a grand welcome ceremony for him. King Albert II and Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy held grand welcome banquets respectively for him. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Horst Koehler spoke positively of the current China-Germany relationship, saying that Germany would always give priority to the relationship with China and join hands with China to enrich the connotations of bilateral relationship. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice President Xi also attended the opening ceremony of the Frankfurt Book Fair, with China being a Guest of Honor. The leaders of Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania stressed that their friendly policies toward China would not be affected by their internal politics. They expressed the aspirations to expand friendly cooperation with China in all fronts, upgrade bilateral relations to a new level, and play a positive role in deepening China-Europe relationships.

Advancing pragmatic cooperation in business and trade, joining hands to tackle the financial crisis, and showing the image of a responsible big country

Zhang said that the international financial crisis severely impacted the economic development of countries around the world. The five countries were very interested in China's measures in response to the crisis and the effectiveness of those measures. They all spoke highly of the good momentum of China's economic development, which, they believed, would be a strong impetus to the recovery of the world economy. During the meetings and talks with the leaders of the five countries and the extensive contacts and exchanges with the business communities of the five countries, Vice President Xi clearly expressed opposition to trade and investment protectionism and showed a clear position, "don't do to others what you would not have them do to you". He once again sent out positive signals that China would like to join hands with Europe to deal with the crisis. He called on the countries, while stepping up their confidence in dealing with the challenges and jointly overcoming the current difficulties, to seize and make good use of the opportunity to strengthen cooperation. Xi also proposed a series of recommendations on focusing upon pragmatic cooperation, expanding trade scale, broadening areas of cooperation, improving cooperation mechanisms, and deepening pragmatic cooperation between China and Europe, which were highly appreciated and positively responded by the leaders of the countries.

During the visits, Vice President Xi visited the port of Antwerp, Belgium, GlaxoSmithKline, Germany's Bayer Group, and other well-known enterprises. He attended 5 ceremonies for the signing of business and trade agreements, and participated in 6 exchange activities including business and trade forums, fairs, seminars, and workshops. These events greatly stimulated the enthusiasms of the Chinese and European enterprises to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation. In addition to the signing of five inter-governmental agreements, the accompanying Chinese entrepreneurs signed 93 cooperation agreements and preliminary agreements with the business communities of the five countries. The total contract amount reached 7.4 billion U.S. dollars, highlighting enormous potentials and bright prospects for the mutually beneficial business and trade cooperation between China and Europe.

Introducing the brilliant Chinese culture, spreading the concept of building a harmonious world, and enriching the connotations of China-Europe relations

Zhang stressed that cultural exchange was a highlight of Vice President Xi's visits. The Europalia-Chinese Art Festival and the Frankfurt Book Fair are both influential cultural events with a long history in Europe. They are not only widely recognized in Belgium and Germany, but also highly influential in major countries and cities throughout Europe. The Frankfurt Book Fair is honored as the wind vane of the world's culture exchange activities and the "Olympics of the publishing industry." As the Guest of Honor of these two major cultural events, China made meticulous preparations and participated widely in the events to actively promote the traditional Chinese culture, thinking and cultural accomplishments of China since the founding. Following the Beijing Olympics, China once again showcased in a concentrated manner the achievements of China in the cultural soft power building. The Belgian media said that the fall of Belgium belonged to China. The German media extensively covered the exhibitions of China and European scholars' books about China.

Zhang said that Vice President Xi and King Albert II attended the opening ceremony of the Europalia-Chinese Art Festival. Vice President Xi and Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the opening ceremony of the Frankfurt Book Fair and the opening ceremony of the showcase activities of China being the Guest of Honor. These activities fully reflected the importance accorded by China to carrying out cultural exchanges with foreign countries, promoting the Chinese culture onto the world stage and building the cultural soft power. The related activities also reached a climax with the participation of the Chinese and foreign leaders. Vice President Xi, at the opening ceremony of the Frankfurt Book Fair, delivered a speech entitled "strengthening cultural exchanges and promoting world peace". He elaborated China's aspirations to participate actively in international cultural exchange and jointly promote the building of a harmonious world featuring lasting peace and common prosperity. Xi pointed out that strengthening the world cultural exchange and expanding the mind communications between the peoples in different cultural contexts was an important means of building a harmonious world. Culture is enriched by exchange and turns colorful because of blending. Cultural exchanges not only need understanding and respect, but also need to go beyond prejudices and misunderstandings. Differences in ideologies, social systems, and development models should neither become obstacles to the exchange of human civilizations, nor serve as justifications for confrontation against each other. China is willing to draw upon the strengths of various civilizations while upholding its excellent national culture in a bid to enrich the spiritual world of the Chinese people. Vice President Xi's speech won warm and long applause. Deutsche According to Welle, Vice President Xi's speech was a reflection of China's self-confidence.

Zhang said that Vice President Xi was particularly concerned about the future development of cultural exchanges between China and Europe. During his visits, he paid special visits to the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium and its sinology department, the Chinese Culture Center in Berlin, Germany, and the Chinese-Hungarian bilingual school in Hungary. He had cordial conversations with the scholars doing Chinese cultural studies. He also encouraged the students to understand more of each other's cultures and become the successors of friendship.

Zhang concluded that Vice President Xi's visits lasted for 14 days and covered more than two thousand kilometers. The five countries Xi visited had their distinctive features. His visits injected a strong impetus to the growth of China-Europe ties, promoted cultural exchanges between China and Europe, enhanced mutual understanding between the Chinese and European people, and enriched the connotations of China-Europe relations. The future development of China-EU relations enjoyed great potentials and bright prospects.

 


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