WARSAW, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Poland Sunday on the second stop of his three-nation Eurasia tour aimed at cementing bilateral ties and strengthening China's relations with Europe.
It is the first state visit by a Chinese head of state to Poland in 12 years. Before visiting Poland, Xi visited Serbia from June 17 to June 19.
The visits, which came on the heels of Xi's visit to the Czech Republic in March, demonstrate the great importance China attaches to its ties with Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and with the European Union (EU), said Liu Zuokui, a scholar with the Institute of European Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
During his stay in Warsaw, Xi is scheduled to hold talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda on enhancement of bilateral ties.
He will also meet with Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, and attend a luncheon hosted by Polish parliamentary leaders. The two sides are expected to sign agreements in areas such as finance, civil aviation, science and technology, and education.
Poland established diplomatic relations with China in October 1949, making it one of the first countries to forge official diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China. Since the two countries lifted their bilateral ties to a strategic partnership in 2011, their relations have been on a "fast track" with deepening political trust and widening cooperation in economy and trade, tourism and education.
With bilateral trade reaching 17.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, Poland is China's largest trading partner in the CEE region, while China is Poland's largest trading partner in Asia. More than 60,000 Chinese tourists travelled to Poland last year, up from 7,700 in 2004. Five Confucius Institutes have been established in the country.
Xi's visit is expected to help further align China's Belt and Road Initiative with Poland's development plans and promote Poland's role as an "engine" to boost China-CEE cooperation.
During a state visit to China by Duda in November last year, the two countries inked a memorandum of understanding on jointly promoting the Belt and Road Initiative.
Proposed by Xi in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt that links China with Europe through Central and Western Asia by inland routes, and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road connecting China with Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe by sea routes. It is a development initiative that focuses on inter-connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily in Eurasia.
Poland sits in the center of Europe, and many of the China-Europe freight trains pass through the country. Chinese experts believe that Poland has a potentially great role to play as a logistics hub between China and the CEE region, as well as between China and Europe.
After visiting Poland, Xi is to travel to Uzbekistan for a state visit and attend a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Tashkent.