President says China has important role in balancing global development
Sauli Niinisto, the president of Finland, has wished President Xi Jinping ahead of the 19th CPC National Congress "all the strength and courage to go further" in his mission to rejuvenate China.
The Finnish people are closely following discussions leading up to the congress, which opens on Wednesday, and hope China will continue on its path of economic development, Niinisto said in an exclusive interview.
He said he is confident the two countries will enhance cooperation in the next five years, both politically and economically, and predicted that "China will play a very important role in balancing global development, which is much needed".
President Xi, who is also general secretary the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made a three-day state visit to Finland in early April. It was the first by a Chinese head of state in 22 years.
Niinisto described the visit as historic, adding that he was touched by the fact it came as Finland celebrated 100 years of independence.
"It"s very valuable for a small country, and the leader of a small country, to hear what the big ones are thinking," said the Finnish president, who remembers Xi as being "a gentleman, and a very friendly personality".
During the visit, Finland and China signed an agreement on a future strategic partnership, which Niinisto said will open many new doors. "It seems that trade is enhanced, for example, and surely that also strengthens our relations," he added.
With Beijing to co-host the 2022 Winter Olympics with Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, another key area for cooperation is winter sports.
Xi"s visit was "a good starting point for potential Finnish-China Olympic cooperation, laying the foundation to start building the required relationships and contacts", said Mikko Salonen, secretary-general of Finland"s Olympic committee.
Dialogue and exchanges are already taking place between governments, businesses and sports clubs, he said, adding that a delegation from the Cross-Country Skiing Federation of Finland is planning to soon visit the Winter Games venues in Beijing and Zhangjiakou.
"I also know companies involved in making artificial snow have been in contact with their Chinese counterparts, and there have been lots of discussions between educational parties and organizations," Salonen said.
Chinese businesses also took the opportunity during Xi"s visit to expand cooperation with Finnish companies in renewable energy, as Beijing works to boost green development.
China CAMC Engineering Co, an arm of the State-owned Sinomach, signed a contract with Finland"s Boreal Bioref that will facilitate an investment of 800 million euros ($942.8 million) in a new bio-refinery in Kemijarvi.
"President Xi"s visit has had a strong impact on the speed at which we have been able to proceed with the project," said Heikki Nivala, CEO and chairman of Boreal Bioref.
"Renewable energy is at the top of the agenda for Finland and China. The potential scale offered by the Chinese market creates a natural breeding ground for Finnish innovation in this field."
China also agreed to loan Finland two giant pandas during Xi"s state visit. The endangered animals are expected to arrive this year and will remain at Ahtari Zoo for 15 years.
Juhani Haapaniemi, the zoo"s CEO, said Finns nationwide are excited about the arrival of the pandas. Students at local schools have planted bamboo, while others have made drawings and videos to greet the pandas.
Zhang Yangfei contributed to this story.
(China Daily 10/17/2017 page5)