China, Finland eye more practical cooperation
Updated 20:41, 17-Jan-2019
‍Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for more efforts to be made in practical cooperation between China and Finland, with innovation being the "impetus".
Xi made the remarks in Beijing on Monday while meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, whose visit is expected to last four days.
A future-oriented new-type cooperative partnership has become the main theme of the two sides' diplomatic relations, Xi noted. The advancement in dialogue and cooperation not just coincides with the interests of the people from both countries, but adds more positive energy to peace, stability and prosperity of the world.
China has always supported the European integration process, Xi said, adding China welcomes a united, stable, open and prosperous Europe.
President Xi said he hopes that Europe will play a constructive role in the international arena, and the Finnish side will continue to play a positive role in promoting the healthy and stable China-EU relations.
On his side, Niinisto spoke highly of China's achievements and attached great importance to China's role in international affairs.
The Finnish president said he cherishes Finland-China ties, adding the two countries would sign a joint work plan during his visit.
Finland is willing to play an active role in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and to make this framework better connect with the European Union (EU) and Eurasia, Niinisto said.
The Finnish side will deepen cooperation with China in various fields such as trade, innovation, environment, tourism, Arctic affairs, cultural exchanges, and sports, Niinisto added.
Finland also appreciates China's active role in coping with climate change and maintaining the multilateral trading system, Niinisto said.
A slew of bilateral cooperation documents were signed after the meeting of the two leaders.

Firm support of the Paris Agreement

Climate change has become a pressing international issue, especially after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the country's withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, a pact that drew all nations together with the goal of combating global warming. 
It is a cause both China and Finland took seriously.
“Mankind is faced with many serious problems,” Niinisto said in an interview with Xinhua in 2017. “Climate change has made living conditions rather difficult in some areas.”
"It is very significant for everyone in the world to understand that we share a common destiny," Niinisto told Xinhua, referring to the Xi-proposed concept of building "a community of common destiny for mankind."
During the Monday meeting, President Xi has called for more sustainable development from both sides in the Arctic region. 
Earlier in April, China and Finland have signed an agreement to establish a joint research center for Arctic space observation and data sharing services. According to Xinhua, the center is expected to provide data for use in climate research, environmental monitoring, and operational activities in the Arctic region. 

Full potential in sports

Later, Xi and Niinisto also attended the launching event for "2019 China-Finland Year of Winter Sports", something that was put forward during Xi's visit to the Nordic country in 2017.
In his speech for the event, Xi noted that the first Olympics China ever participated in was the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, capital of Finland.
There's great potential in the two sides' sports cooperation, Xi said.
Niinisto said in his speech that China already became a major power in sports and shared a long history with Finland in this sector.
He showed his support of the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will be hosted in China, while also delivering his hope to see the event further promote the friendship between the people from both countries.
China is on its way towards becoming a strong country in winter sports, and Finland is willing to give a hand on that, Niinisto said.
Deputy Director-General of the Foreign Ministry's Department of European Affairs Zhu Jing, said: “China and Finland will strengthen cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative. Finland is an active and important partner of China under the initiative." 
He added, "We already have two China-Europe expressways between our two countries, and seven direct flights that strengthen our air connectivity. The two sides will expand its cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative. With the joint efforts in opening the route in the Arctic region, we will build an 'Ice Silk Road'."

President Xi's April 2017 visit

In April 2017, Xi paid a three-day visit to Finland, the second by a Chinese president to the Nordic nation since 1995.
During the meeting, the two sides confirmed the establishment of a future-oriented, new type of cooperative partnership, while vowing to deepen friendship and advance cooperation.
Finland established diplomatic ties with China in 1950, the first in the western hemisphere. It was also the first Western nation to sign an intergovernmental trade agreement with China.
In trade, China has remained Finland's biggest trading partner in Asia for the past 14 years, and Finland is the third largest trade partner of China in the Nordic region, based on the latest data from China's Foreign Ministry.
China and Finland launched a committee for innovative business two months after Xi's visit. The committee has set up goals for further explorations in areas like energy, maritime logistics, industrial innovations, clean air and technology, and forestry, according to Xinhua.
In October 2008, the Chinese Enterprises Association in Finland was established in Finland, with the aim of helping more Chinese high-tech companies enter the European market via Finland. 
Head of Finnish Investment Antti Aumo told Xinhua that he hopes to see more Chinese high-tech companies flowing into the European market by “utilizing Finland as their foothold.”
(CGTN's Su Yuting also contributed to the story.)