Xi’s visit to Poland to up Belt and Road construction, cement ties with CEE
OUR CORRESPONDENT BEIJING—Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Poland from Sunday to Tuesday is expected to boost the traditional friendship between the two countries.
Poland, which is an important hub on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, is the second leg of Xi’s three-stop visit.
Xi will meet with Polish leaders, and together they will attend a signing ceremony of cooperative treaties, an international forum on the Silk Road Economic Zone, the opening ceremony of a China-Poland trade forum, and welcome the arrival of freight trains that will ply between China and Europe.
Former Polish Ambassador to China Krzysztof Szumski said that now is a good time for Poland to develop cooperation with China, as China has offered its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, in which Poland occupies an important position.
As China’s biggest trade partner in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the largest economy in the region, Poland responded with great enthusiasm to the Belt and Road Initiative. It was the region’s first country to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and has been cooperating actively with China’s western provinces. Polish President Andrzej Duda expressed the hope that Poland could play a key role in the development of the Belt and Road Initiative, and become China’s gateway to Europe due to its unique location.
“We can become the image ambassador of ‘One Belt, One Road’ in Europe,” Duda said. Poland, Serbia and Uzbekistan were among the first countries to respond to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Serbia has been actively promoting its re-industrialization strategy, and hopes to be involved in the Belt and Road program and attract more foreign investment.
Uzbekistan’s economy relies heavily on energy and agriculture, and its industry is comparatively weak. Connecting Uzbekistan to the Belt and Road Initiative would compliment the Chinese economy and the Uzbek economy and enhance bilateral cooperation.
The three countries are located in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Central Asia respectively — one is an important hub and route connecting Europe and Asia, while the other is the first stop of the Silk Road Economic Zone outside China. During Xi’s visit, the Belt and Road program will top his agenda. He will discuss with leaders from Serbia, Poland and Uzbekistan new measures to promote the Belt and Road construction, and seal relevant cooperative agreements.
Such major Belt and Road projects as the ChinaEurope land-sea express passage, freight train services between China and Europe, a rail link between Serbian and Hungarian capitals, the cross-Danube bridge in Belgrade, the Kostolac power station in Serbia, the China-Central Asia gas pipeline, have been given the go-ahead or are underway, bringing benefits to local people. “Poland, Serbia and Uzbekistan have a strong will to cooperate with China. Our cooperation also enjoys special advantages and huge potential, and will play an important role in the development of One Belt, One Road,” said Liu Zuokui, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Xi’s visit will also be a promotion tour for China-Europe cooperation. Poland is an important country in the European Union (EU), as well as the largest, most populous and largest economy in Central and Eastern Europe. Xi’s state visit to Poland will boost China-CEE relations, to some extent China-Europe relations.
As two influential countries in Southeastern Europe and Central Europe, Serbia and Poland will play a positive role in promoting China-Europe cooperation, according to Liu. “Given the influence of Serbia and Poland in CEE countries, their bilateral relations with China will become an example and accelerator of China-Europe relations,” Liu said.
Xi’s upcoming visit to the CEE follows his state visit to the Czech Republic in April, signaling the region’s growing importance to China, Liu added. According to Wang Yiwei, a professor of the School of International Studies, Renmin University of China, China-CEE cooperation is the highlight of China-Europe cooperation.