Prince Albert II of Monaco receives an interview with Xinhua in Monaco, March 15, 2019. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)
MONACO, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Prince Albert II of Monaco said he looks forward to hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping for a state visit and believes in the future development of bilateral relations.
"I hope this visit will enable the already very active and rich relationship to continue to develop healthily," the head of state of the principality told Xinhua in a recent interview ahead of Xi's upcoming state visit to his country, the first ever by a Chinese president.
"I believe that the future cooperation between the two sides will develop more harmoniously," added the prince.
The visit is very important "not only because it is a response to the state visit I made last September in China -- and I had then invited President Xi -- but also because I did not know if he would have the time and the opportunity to come, so it is a huge pleasure," he said.
Born in 1958, Albert II ascended the throne in 2005 and has visited China 10 times. He said Xi's visit will also be an opportunity to celebrate the friendship between the two countries, which established diplomatic relations in 1995.
Bilateral economic and trade exchanges have increased in the past years, with fruitful cooperation in fields of culture and environmental protection, said Albert II.
Having met Xi several times on various occasions, Albert II said they had "open and warm dialogues."
"I believe Xi will maintain China's traditional diplomatic philosophy -- all countries, big or small, are equal. This is very special and has touched me. It means that China maintains an open mind with the greatest will to continuously engage in dialogues with various countries, with small ones in particular. I think this kind of good political will is worthy of admiration," he said.
The prince also said he shared the ideal of "building a community with a shared future for mankind" proposed by Xi, as Monaco and its neighboring countries have had a similar notion for a "community of a shared destiny."
Extending the notion to global level is an innovation, which means that all countries should maintain dialogues, the prince said, adding that it will benefit not only China but also the entire international community.
Albert II said he was deeply impressed by China's development during his 10 visits to the country.
"China has undergone tremendous development, as evidenced by its leading position in the global economy. But what strikes me most is Xi's determination and will to pursue green growth not only in China, but also at global level by participating as much as possible in all discussions on climate change and the protection of biodiversity," he said.
The 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to be held in Beijing in 2020 is "an important symbol of China's role on all these topics," said Albert II.
As a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and a former professional winter sports athlete, the prince has participated in five Winter Olympic Games and attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as a guest.
Showing his support for Beijing Winter Olympic Games in 2022, he said it is great that Beijing will be the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
This fully proves China's willingness to develop winter sports, its hope to send a message of peace through sports to the international community, and its wishes that the world could promote the Olympic spirit together, said the prince, who is also chairman of the Monaco Olympic Committee and chairman of the IOC's Sustainability and Legacy Commission.
Looking forward to Xi's visit, the prince said his country is willing to strengthen cooperation with China in the fields of economy, culture, sports and environmental protection.
"I hope President Xi Jinping and his wife will have a good time in Monaco," he added.