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Remarks by Ambassador Xu Erwen at China-Croatia top Think-Tanks Dialogue
2020/01/31

Your Excellency, Former President, Mr. Josipovic,

Honourable Rector of the University of Zagreb, Mr. Boras,

Your Excellency, Ambassador Yue Xiaoyong, Director of Global Study Center of the People's University of China

Honourable Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Ms. Živković,

Honourable President of Croatian Chamber of Economy, Mr. Luka Burilović

Respected Chairman and CEO of 111 Group, Mr. Yu Gang,

Respected Chairman of the Board of Yuye Group , Mr. Zhou Xuzhou

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends,

Good morning, It is a great pleasure to attend this seminar and discuss with friends from different fields on strengthening China-Croatia and China-EU Cooperation under the Framework of Belt and Road Initiative. I would like to extend my warmest welcome to all the distinguished guests and express my sincere thanks to the University of Zagreb for its great support. Today is the fourth day of the lunar New Year. It is a very auspicious day. At the outset, please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese embassy in Croatia, to extend my best wishes to you for the New Year. I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Croatian government and people for their support to China's efforts to combat the new coronavirus-infected pneumonia. At present, the Chinese government and people are doing their best to fight against the epidemic. We have established a nationwide mechanism and taken decisive measures to advance prevention and control in a scientific, orderly and precise manner. We have the confidence and capability to win the war of prevention and control.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Although China and Croatia are oceans apart, we were connected by the Silk Road more than 700 years ago. Marco Polo, born in Korčula of Croatia, traveled along the ancient silk road, across mountains and rivers from the west to the east. He not only opened a window for China to know Europe, but also brought Chinese culture back to Europe, thus becoming a bridge of friendship and a classic story between China, Croatia and Europe.

One Belt and one Road, a modern version of ancient silk road is about a road of connectivity of infrastructure, trade, finance, people-to-people, high digital, clean and green development. It is aimed to promote the comparative economic advantages with the countries along the belt and road. Over the past six years, the Belt and Road Initiative has made great progress in building an open and inclusive platform based on the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. Up to now, China has signed the Belt and Road Initiative cooperation agreements with more than 150 countries and international organizations. Our total trade with countries along Belt and Road has reached over 6 trillion USD and investment has exceeded 80 billion USD. The 82 overseas cooperation parks jointly built with countries concerned have created nearly 300,000 local jobs and brought ample development opportunities to all countries.

Croatia is located at the intersection of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and enjoys unique geographical advantages in Belt and Road construction. Leaders of the Croatia all indicated that the Croatian side would like to actively advance the alignment of Belt and Road Initiative with the Croatia Strategy of development .

Since the establishment of our diplomatic ties 28 years ago, China-Croatia relations have made great progress and both sides have set an example of friendly cooperation between countries of different systems, civilizations and sizes. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership between China-and Croatia as well as the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and EU. China-Croatia and China-EU relations have both reached a fresh starting point in building on past achievements. It is our historic and realistic mission to promote sustained development of China-Croatia and China-EU relations in the new era and deliver greater benefits to our peoples.

Our world today has been undergoing complex and profound changes. a new wave of the technological and industrial revolution has created new opportunities for international economic cooperation and the development of all countries. But at the same time global growth is at its lowest ebb in nearly a decade. Economic globalization is encountering headwinds, with uncertainties and destabilizing factors notably on the rise. In this context, it is important for China, Croatia and the EU to build consensus, work together, look to the future, strengthen mutual political trust, expand practical cooperation and jointly tackle challenges to make new contributions to the prosperity and stability in our region and beyond.

China, Croatia and the EU share common international responsibilities and broad common interests. In promoting the establishment of a fair, just, open and inclusive international order, and in advocating multilateralism, free trade etc, China is pleased to see a united, stable, open and prosperous Europe, consistently supports the European integration process, and is committed to developing relations with EU institutions, member states and other European countries in a comprehensive, balanced and mutually reinforcing manner. China-CEEC (17+1) cooperation is another win-win, open and transparent trans-regional cooperation based on the common interests and practical needs of China and European countries in the region. It is an important component and a strong complement to China-EU relations. China is ready to promote exchanges with Croatia and Europe at all levels to enhance mutual political trust. As Croatia holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of this year, China expects Croatia to play a positive and constructive role in the EU. We also hope that China, Croatia and the EU can strengthen communication and coordination under relevant frameworks to jointly maintain stable international order and build an open world economy.

We look forward to further expanding China-Croatia and China-EU practical cooperation. On the basis of following market rules and pursuing mutual benefit and win-win results, Chinese enterprises are willing to take an active part in the construction of roads, bridges, ports, airports and other infrastructure in Croatia and other European countries, so as to better integrate China's technological and production advantages with local demands to break the bottleneck of connectivity. We look forward to more examples of such model of trilateral cooperation between China, Croatia and Europe as Pelješac bridge in the future to achieve high-quality and sustainable development. In addition to steadily advancing cooperation in traditional areas, China, Croatia and EU can also foster new growth points of cooperation such as information communications and digital economy. It is my sincere hope that European countries, including Croatia, to treat Chinese companies fairly and equitably so as to achieve common development and win-win cooperation. In addition, China has the largest and fastest growing middle-income group in the world, and the demand for high-quality Croatian products such as dairy products, tuna, olive oil and truffle will continue to rise. We welcome more Croatian companies to explore business opportunities in China.

We look forward to further deepening cultural and educational exchanges with Croatia and other European countries. According to the statistics issued by Croatian Embassy in China, the data of personnel exchanges between China and Croatia has reached to 500,000 for the first time in history last year. We have broad space for cooperation in such areas as culture, tourism, education, sports, health, think tanks and media. We should give more support to academic cooperation between scholars and think tanks, support exchanges between teachers and students of our universities, facilitate exchanges between media and art circles, so as to enhance mutual understanding between our peoples and let the friendship between China and Croatia and between China and Europe be passed on from generation to generation. Ladies and gentlemen,

Looking ahead, China-Croatia and China-EU cooperation enjoy bright prospects. Croatian friends often say that "zajedno smo jači" ("together we are stronger"), while the Chinese believe that "fire burns high when everyone adds wood". I believe through today’s discussion, we will further communicate, and offer advises and suggestions. Let’s work together to upgrade China-Croatia and China-EU relations and help the Belt and Road construction continues to move forward. Thank you all.

At the end, I wish today's seminar a complete success.

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