Deals lay foundation for Sino-Czech ties

Updated: 2016-03-31 07:40

By An Baijie in Prague(China Daily)

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President Xi Jinping witnessed the signing of 15 documents on cooperation between Chinese and Czech companies on Wednesday, the final day of his visit to the European country.

The agreements cover multiple industries including automobiles, nuclear energy, finance, civil aviation and infrastructure construction.

They involve major Chinese companies such as Sinohydro Group, SAIC Motor, China Eastern Airlines and China General Nuclear Power Corp.

In a speech delivered during a round-table meeting with businesspeople and investors on Wednesday, Xi called for closer political and business ties with the Czech Republic.

Quoting a saying by Chinese philosopher Mencius that "genuine friends know each other's hearts and minds", Xi said, "Through years of communication, our hearts have become closer."

The two countries' industries have much to complement each other, providing great potential for cooperation, Xi said, adding that the Czech Republic has advantages in sectors such as auto-making and infrastructure construction.

Czech President Milos Zeman said at the meeting that Chinese investment in his country may reach 95 billion crowns ($3.9 billion) this year.

Gao Hucheng, China's minister of commerce, said more than 200 Chinese businesspeople are accompanying Xi during the visit for talks with their Czech partners.

They have reached deals worth more than 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion), covering finance, machinery, e-commerce and tourism.

In one of the deals, China Eastern Airlines has agreed to launch direct flights between Shanghai and Prague.

China has been the Czech Republic's largest trading partner outside the European Union for years, and the Czech Republic is China's second-largest trading partner, after Poland, in Central and Eastern Europe.

At the end of last year, China's investment in the country surged to $1.6 billion, up from $200 million in 2013.