By H. E. Xi Jinping
President of the People's Republic of China
Published on Czech newspaper Pravo Daily
January 26, 2016
At the invitation of President Milos Zeman, I will be paying my first state visit to the Czech Republic as the Chinese President. I look forward to having in-depth exchange of views with President Zeman and other Czech leaders on boosting bilateral ties and on major international and regional issues.
The Czech Republic is known for picturesque landscape, rich cultural heritage and talented people. I visited this country in the 1990s and was deeply impressed by the hard work and ingenuity of the Czech people, dynamic economic and social progress and the Bohemian culture nourished by the Vltava river.
The Czech Republic is one of the first countries to recognize and establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 67 years ago, the traditional friendship between our countries and peoples has gone from strength to strength. In the 1950s, a well-known Czech painter Zdenek Sklenar came to China and became good friends with Wu Zuoren, Qi Baishi and other renowned Chinese painters. After returning to his country, Zdenek Sklenar drew many illustrations of Monkey King, regarded fondly as a unique variation of the image of this popular character. Krtek is the first foreign cartoon series introduced to China. The chubby, kind-hearted and courageous little mole became immensely popular among China's young audience. Bedrich Smetana's symphonic cycle Ma Vlast and Jaroslav Hasek's The Good Soldier Svejk are also familiar masterpieces to the Chinese public.
In recent years, China-Czech relations entered a period of fast growth. In a short span of two years, President Zeman and I met four times and reached broad common understanding on strengthening high-level exchanges, deepening strategic mutual trust and intensifying exchanges and cooperation across the board. At the end of 2015, the two governments signed an MOU on jointly promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, which created even wider prospects for bilateral exchanges and cooperation in all fields.
For many years in a row, China has been the Czech Republic's largest trading partner outside the European Union and the Czech Republic China's second largest trading partner in Central and Eastern Europe. In 2015, our bilateral trade topped $11 billion. Our cooperation in nuclear power, finance, aviation, science and technology and agriculture scaled new heights both in level and scale. Many Chinese and Czech companies have investments and booming business operations in each other's countries.
Our people-to-people and cultural exchanges are flourishing. The Czech Republic is an attractive destination to Chinese tourists, who made a record number of more than 300,000 visits here in 2015, making tourism a bright spot in China-Czech cooperation. Today, the Czech Republic hosts the first traditional Chinese medicine research center in Central and Eastern Europe. Cooperation on film and TV production is gaining momentum. The 2022 Winter Olympics to be held in China also offers a great opportunity for sports exchanges between our two countries.
This visit also marks my first trip to a Central and Eastern European country (CEEC) as China's president. With our deep-rooted friendship, political good-will and popular support as a strong basis, China and CEECs launched "16+1" cooperation, which has since made solid progress. Over the past four years, under the principles of mutual respect, mutual benefit, inclusiveness and openness, China and CEECs have built new cooperation mechanisms and platforms. Thanks to these efforts, China-CEECs cooperation is entering a maturing phase and delivering early harvests. Our cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative and efforts to strengthen synergy between China and the EU in their development strategies will create even greater impetus and potential for "16+1" cooperation.
The EU is China's comprehensive strategic partner. In March 2014, during my visit to the EU headquarters, the EU leaders and I agreed to develop partnerships for peace, growth, reform and civilization, pointing the strategic direction for China-EU relations. Last year, marking the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties, the two sides decided to promote synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Investment Plan for Europe and set up the China-EU co-investment vehicle and the Connectivity Platform, broadening the new framework of China-EU practical cooperation. China-EU relations are at their best period in history and are presented with unprecedented historic opportunities of further growth.
China and the EU are both deepening structural reforms to unleash greater social and economic vitality. People in China are now striving to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, advance towards the "two centenary goals" of development (i.e. to double 2010 GDP and per capita income and finish the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the time the CPC celebrates its centenary in 2021 and to turn the PRC into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious by the time it celebrates its centenary in 2049) and realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation. The Outline of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) for Social and Economic Development, which was recently promulgated, calls for innovative, coordinated, green, open and inclusive development and sets forth the targets of maintaining stable growth, upgrading the growth model and economic structure, aiming at a medium-to-high growth speed for the coming five years. The EU is working to keep the momentum of economic recovery and boost its economic competitiveness. Such a high complementarity in our development strategies and great potential of our cooperation hold out great promise for the future of China-EU relations. China will join hands with the EU for win-win cooperation, and together contribute to world economic development.
China-CEECs cooperation and China-EU relations need to be underpinned by strong bilateral relationships. This is an opportune time for the development of China-Czech relations. I look forward to working with Czech leaders to further enhance bilateral relations and push for new progress in "16+1" cooperation and China-EU relations.
- We should enhance political mutual trust and establish a clear direction for the development of our ties. As people say in China, a tree can grow tall only when its roots are strong. China and the Czech Republic should consider upgrading the bilateral relationship in due time, adopt a strategic and long-term perspective, follow the principle of mutual respect and equality, and render firm support to each other on issues concerning our core interests and major concerns, to ensure long-term sound and stable development of bilateral ties and set the right direction for our relations.
- We should better align our development strategies to tap the potential of cooperation. The MOU of cooperation on the joint development of the Belt and Road between China and the Czech Republic offers fresh opportunity for the two countries to better align our development strategies and plans, and prepare the ground for identifying major cooperation projects for early harvest.
- We should enhance economic cooperation for the benefit of our people. More than 30 years of reform and opening-up has sharpened China's competitive edge in terms of capital, technology and equipment, especially in railway and nuclear plant construction. Situated in the heartland of Europe, the Czech Republic enjoys advantageous location, strong industrial foundation and unique strengths in machining, automobile manufacturing and aero-industry. China hopes to cooperate with the Czech side to carry out industrial capacity cooperation in the manufacturing sector, and on that basis, expand practical cooperation in such areas as finance, telecommunications, smart industry, nano technology and environmental protection, to deliver greater fruits of this mutually beneficial cooperation to our two peoples.
- We should encourage people-to-people and cultural exchanges. The Chinese and Czech peoples have long admired and appreciated each other's civilization and culture, and such exchanges have boomed in recent years. We should expand exchanges in culture, education, film and television, tourism and health sectors, encourage young people and students to interact more with each other to renew our traditional friendship.
- We should step up regional cooperation by bringing into play the role of multilateral platforms. The Czech Republic has actively supported and participated in China-CEECs cooperation, demonstrating its important role by spearheading health cooperation and cooperation at sub-national levels. We hope to work together with the Czech Republic and other CEECs to make the "16+1" a premier framework for regional cooperation.
- We should strengthen China-EU cooperation for a better future. China and the EU should follow the trend of peace, development and win-win cooperation, further synergize development strategies, enhance communication and coordination in the international arena and work for new progress of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership.
Let us work together to renew and energize the development of China-Czech ties and usher in a bright new era of China-CEECs cooperation and China-EU relations.
(Xinhua News Agency March 26, 2016)