Li con­nects with warmth in­Mon­go­lia

Re­la­tions will re­main ‘solid and steady’, pre­mier tells busi­ness group, em­bassy staff and stu­dents

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHAO­HUANXIN in Ulaan­baatar zhao­huanxin@china

Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang re­ceived a hada, a silk scarf re­garded as a token of re­spect and friend­ship, and tasted a dried milk cake upon his ar­rival at the Ching­gis Khaan In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Wed­nes­day, at the start of a visit that he hoped would bring the two coun­tries even closer.

Cit­ing a Chi­nese say­ing — “Neigh­bors wish each other well” — Li said China is com­mit­ted to en­hanc­ing co­op­er­a­tion with Mon­go­lia and push­ing for­ward the align­ment of de­vel­op­ment strate­gies.

“The bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship has en­tered a stel­lar pe­riod, and I hope my visit will deepen co­op­er­a­tion in var­i­ous fields and bring closer the bonds be­tween our two coun­tries,” Li said in a signed ar­ti­cle pub­lished in Mon­go­lian news­pa­pers on Wed­nes­day.

Li will be the first high-level for­eign gov­ern­ment leader on Thurs­day to meet with newly ap­pointed Mon­go­lian Prime Min­is­ter Jar­gal­tulga Er­denebat. Er­denebat, a for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter, was ap­pointed on Fri­day.

Li is also sched­uled to meet Mon­go­lian Pres­i­dent Tsakhi­agiin El­beg­dorj and talk with Miye­gombo Enkhbold, who was elected the new speaker of the coun­try’s par­lia­ment last week.

“No mat­ter how things change, Sino-Mon­go­lian re­la­tions will re­main solid and steady,” Li told rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Chi­nese en­trepreneurs, em­bassy staffers and stu­dents based in­Mon­go­lia.

He joked that it was just a two-hour northerly flight from Bei­jing to theMon­go­lian cap­i­tal, while his south­bound jour­neys in China of­ten take longer.

“Peo­ple-to-peo­ple and cul­tural ex­changes will bring our souls closer,” Li said in the ar­ti­cle, adding that 1 mil­lion Mon­go­lians, or roughly onethird of the pop­u­la­tion, vis­ited China last year.

Li said Bei­jing and Ulaan­baatar had reached con­sen­sus on strate­gic syn­ergy be­tween China’s Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive and Mon­go­lia’s Steppe Road Program, and broad prospects lie ahead for prag­matic co­op­er­a­tion.

The Steppe Road Program is an in­fras­truc­ture con­struc­tion pro­posal aimed at boost­ing the Mon­go­lian econ­omy through cross-border transportation.

“The con­nec­tion of the two strate­gies is vi­tal toMon­go­lia’s de­vel­op­ment and the Chi­naMon­go­lia-Rus­sia eco­nomic cor­ri­dor,” Xinhua News Agency quoted Gao Shu­mao, the for­mer Chi­nese am­bas­sador toMon­go­lia, as say­ing.

Gao said there was plenty of po­ten­tial to col­lab­o­rate on road and rail projects, power, clean en­ergy, tourism, med­i­cal care and peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes.

Mon­go­lia’s econ­omy grew by 2.3 per­cent last year. In­flu­enced by fluc­tu­a­tions in the global mar­ket, bi­lat­eral trade be­tween China and Mon­go­lia has con­tracted in the past few years.

Two-way trade plum­meted by 20.3 per­cent in the first five months of this year to $1.7 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese cus­toms data.

Li’s en­tourage in­cludes For­eign Min­ster Wang Yi, Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture Han Changfu, Min­is­ter of Com­merce Gao Hucheng and Zhang Yong, deputy chief of the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion.

The lineup in­di­cates high­level talks will most likely fo­cus on the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship, agri­cul­ture and hus­bandry co­op­er­a­tion, trade and de­vel­op­ment projects.

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