Xi's visit to draw blueprint for China-Finland partnership
Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to Finland will enhance bilateral relations, advance China-Northern Europe cooperation and promote the building of the Sino-European partnerships for peace, growth, reform and civilization.
Xi's visit to Finland from Tuesday to Thursday will be his first trip to a European Union member state this year, and also his first visit to Northern Europe as China's head of state.
The trip will see the two states work out a new blueprint for the development of bilateral ties and sign a host of cooperative deals, highlighting the two countries' common wish to build greater consensus and synergize more cooperation efforts.
Although China and Finland are different in history and culture, social systems and development stages, the development of bilateral ties based on mutual trust, equality and common prosperity has played an exemplary role in boosting relations between China and Northern Europe, as well as Europe as a whole.
Finland was one of the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with China, and the first Western nation to sign an inter-governmental trade agreement with China.
Currently, as anti-globalization rears its head and European integration suffers setbacks, China and Finland need to join hands in promoting trade liberalization and economic globalization, as well as advancing global governance and multilateralism.
Bilateral ties have been propelled forward by the exchange of high-level visits. During Finnish President Sauli Niinisto's visit to China in 2013, Xi and Niinisto reached important consensus on building and promoting a future-oriented new type of partnership between the two countries, which pointed the direction for the development of bilateral ties.
In the economic and trade sector, due to flagging international trade and uncertainty for the global economic recovery, bilateral trade volume stood at 5.27 billion U.S. dollars from January to October in 2016, marking a decrease of 11.9 percent from the same period of 2015.
However, it was estimated that China would remain Finland's biggest trading partner in Asia for 14 consecutive years in 2016, while Finland would remain China's major trading partner in Europe.
In 2015, Finland joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a prospective founding member.
The AIIB is an institution that finances infrastructure construction and promotes regional connections and economic integration.
Given the fact that Finland is one of the most innovative countries in the world and China has decided to pursue an innovation-driven development strategy, the two countries have complementary advantages and huge potential for cooperation in many areas, including high technology, clean energy, innovation and Arctic research.
Finland is a traditional power in winter sports and China will host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, creating a golden opportunity for the two countries to strengthen exchange and cooperation in the field.
Finland has responded positively to the China-initiated Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa.
"Finland is a firm supporter of initiatives which enhance connectivity between Europe and Asia," Finland Foreign Minister Timo Soini said in an interview with Xinhua in February.
President Xi's visit to Finland is sure to usher in a new era of partnership, and the sound development of bilateral ties will serve as an example for China-Europe cooperation.
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