Xi, Czech leaders meet in Prague

2016-03-29 01:48:27 GMT2016-03-29 09:48:27(Beijing Time)  Global Times
Xi Jinping, Zeman planting a tree at Lany chateauXi Jinping, Zeman planting a tree at Lany chateau

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Prague on Monday for the start of his 3-day State visit to the Czech Republic, as China seeks closer China-Czech ties and stronger relations with Central and Eastern Europe.

At the invitation of Czech President Milos Zeman, Xi's visit will run from Monday to Wednesday. It also marks Xi's first trip to a central and eastern European country (CEEC) as China's head of State.

During his stay, Xi will hold talks with Zeman and meet Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Senate Chairman Milan Stech, Chamber of Deputies Chairman Jan Hamacek and Prague Mayor Adriana Krnacova.

With a per capita GDP of nearly $20,000, the Czech Republic has been recovering from a debt crisis since 2013 and is now in need of further investments to consolidate its economic development. China, which suffered from a stock market plunge last year and currency devaluation, hopes to strengthen cooperation with Europe dealing with a refugee crisis, terrorism, an aging population and economic recovery, according to analysts.

"Xi's visit is expected to bring billions of US dollars into the Czech Republic's nuclear, banking and scientific-technological research sectors, which means the creation of jobs and greater socio-economic vigor and vitality for the manufacturing-based economy," Xinhua said in a commentary.

During Xi's visit, the two countries will sign a number of agreements on the economy and trade, infrastructure, finance, health care, aviation, science and technology, and culture.

The two countries are also expected to sign an investment deal worth of 4.8 billion yuan ($737 million) during Xi's visit, Phoenix TV reported.

Xi is also expected to raise proposals for the "16+1" cooperatio to further direct the strategic China-CEE engagement.

Prior to his visit, Xi on Saturday published an article, "Time to Renew and Energize China-Czech Ties," in the Czech newspaper Pravo, in which he called on the two countries to "usher in a bright new era of China-CEEC cooperation and China-EU relations."

Saying that it is "an opportune time" to develop China-Czech relations, Xi noted that development strategies should be better aligned and regional cooperation enhanced by "bringing into play the role of multilateral platforms" such as the "16+1" mechanism, which refers to the annual meeting between Chinese and Central and Eastern European leaders.

Xi and Zeman have met four times in the past two years. At the end of 2015, the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding on jointly promoting the "Belt and Road" initiative.

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