BEIJING, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's upcoming visit to Europe will intensify cooperation between China and European countries and provide new impetus to the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, a Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday.
Li's visit, scheduled for April 8 to 12, will take him to Brussels for the 21st China-EU leaders' meeting, and Croatia for an official visit and the eighth leaders' meeting of China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao said at a press briefing.
This is the first overseas trip to be made by Li this year as well as another significant high-level exchange between China and Europe after Chinese President Xi Jinping's successful state visits to Italy, Monaco and France in March, demonstrating the importance that China attaches to its relations with Europe, Wang noted.
A SIGNIFICANT MEETING FOR CHINA AND EUROPE
"The China-EU leaders' meeting, a high-level platform for strategic communication between the two sides, has played a leading role in deepening China-EU relations and promoting dialogue and cooperation," Wang said.
He stressed that this year's meeting, the fifth co-chaired by Premier Li, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, will be the last China-EU leaders' meeting during the tenure of the current EU institutions, thus bearing transitional significance.
China and the EU are enjoying sound development of ties, close high-level connections, deepening cooperation and robust people-to-people exchanges, he added.
"We share broad common interests in deepening win-win practical cooperation, common positions on upholding multilateralism and free trade, and common goals in improving global governance and maintaining world peace and stability."
Leaders of the two sides will exchange views on bilateral ties and major international and regional issues of common concerns, and witness the signing of cooperation documents on energy, competition policies and other areas, Wang said.
"We believe that this meeting will inject new impetus to the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, take our dialogue and cooperation across the board to a new level, and strengthen the stability, reciprocity and strategic significance of our relations," Wang said.
A BOOST FOR 16+1 COOPERATION
Wang Chao said China-CEEC cooperation (16+1 cooperation) was a beneficial mechanism of regional cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, and has provided a platform for China and CEE countries to deepen traditional friendship and enhance mutually beneficial cooperation.
Initiated in 2012, the 16+1 cooperation has gained broad support and active participation from 16 CEE countries, and has built up an all-round and multi-tiered cooperation framework, said Wang, adding that the 16+1 cooperation has played a positive role in promoting trade and expanding pragmatic cooperation across-the-board between China and other countries.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Some CEE countries also established diplomatic relations with China 70 years ago.
Wang said this year's meeting, to be held in Croatian city Dubrovnik, was of important significance to the promotion of the steady, long term development of 16+1 cooperation as well as China-Europe relations.
Noting the theme of this year's meeting of building new bridges of openness, innovation and partnership, Wang said leaders attending the meeting would review new progress of 16+1 cooperation, have insightful discussions on key future work directions, and announce a series of new measures on pragmatic cooperation.
China hopes that the 16+1 cooperation will become a bridge of openness, innovation and partnership through enhancing exchanges and cooperation of mutual benefit and win-win results, he said.
According to the vice minister, outcome documents charting 16+1 cooperation will be released after the meeting and related parties will ink cooperation agreements on infrastructure construction, trade, finance, education, quality inspection, personnel exchanges, and mutual recognition of driving licenses.
China believes this year's meeting will inject new impetus to relations between China and the CEE countries and the development of the China-Europe comprehensive strategic partnership, he said.
CHINESE PREMIER'S FIRST VISIT TO CROATIA
"Li's visit will be the first ever by a Chinese premier to Croatia since the establishment of diplomatic ties. Therefore, it is significant in consolidating traditional friendship and advancing our comprehensive cooperative partnership as well as China-EU relations," Wang Chao said.
Hailing Croatia as an important member of CEE countries and a key stop on the ancient Silk Road, Wang said relations between China and Croatia had been growing rapidly with the development of the Belt and Road Initiative and 16+1 cooperation.
In addition to close top-level exchanges, fruitful cooperation in trade, investment and infrastructure construction, and ever-deepening friendship between the two peoples, China-Croatia relations face a broad space for future development, he added.
During Li's visit, the two sides will issue a joint statement summarizing any important consensus reached by their leaders and mapping out future cooperation. The prime ministers of the two countries will witness the signing of government cooperation documents and commercial contracts covering multiple sectors.
China hopes the visit will help synergize both countries' development strategies, enhance mutual understanding and political trust, deepen cooperation and bring bilateral ties to a higher level, Wang said.