ZAGREB, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Pragmatic Croatian-Chinese cooperation has been considerably strengthened, Chinese Ambassador Hu Zhaoming said at a seminar at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU) on Thursday.
The "New idea, new opportunity, new development" seminar was organized by the Chinese Embassy, HAZU and the Croatian Foreign Ministry on the occasion of 25 years of Croatian-Chinese diplomatic relations.
"Over the past 25 years, the mutual understanding of the two peoples has deepened greatly. Pragmatic cooperation between Croatia and China has gained in strength and last year our trade volume reached 1.2 billion U.S. dollars, which means that it grew over 30 times in the past 25 years," Hu said, adding that "our relations are at a new starting point, facing new historical opportunities".
Although the two countries have established a comprehensive cooperative partnership, the ambassador noted that bilateral cooperation lags behind China's cooperation with Croatia's neighbors.
"We must seize the opportunities we have... We must utilize the platforms which offer the best prospect for the development of bilateral relations," Hu said,
The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the Three Seas Initiative, promoted by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, were "to a large extent compatible", according to the Chinese ambassador.
The Belt and Road Initiative, put forward in 2013, is aimed at building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road through concerted efforts of related countries to benefit all participants by promoting unimpeded trade, financial integration, infrastructure connectivity and closer people-to-people exchanges.
Over the Belt and Road Initiative, "Croatia has a special place in it because it is positioned at the intersection of the maritime Silk Road and continental Silk Road," Hu said.
Speaking of the development of diplomatic relations with Croatia, Hu recalled that Zagreb and Beijing had supported each other on some key issues. The ambassador emphasized that China had supported Croatia's independence and its economic development.
"On the other hand, Croatia has supported our core national interests such as the one-China principle. China sees Croatia as a reliable partner in the European Union," he said.
The ambassador also announced for Sept. 29 a big celebration at the Pula amphitheatre at which the Chinese Embassy, in cooperation with the City of Pula and Istria County, will mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.