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Xi leaves Beijing for first trip to Europe

2014-03-22 10:03 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Yao Lan

President Xi Jinping left Beijing on Saturday morning for his first trip to Europe since taking office over a year ago.

Accompanied by his wife, Peng Liyuan, Xi will visit the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium, and the headquarters of the European Union from March 22 to April 1.

He is also due to meet US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of a nuclear safety summit in The Hague early next week.

Analysts said Beijing expects to use Xi's current trip to enhance political and economic ties with Europe.

President Xi is expected to sign several cooperation agreements on manufacturing, finance, energy and cultural exchanges during his upcoming tour of Europe that experts say will set the tone for future ties.

The Netherlands is Xi's first stop. It will be the first State visit by a Chinese president to the country since the nations established diplomatic ties in 1972. Xi is expected to sign cooperation agreements on agriculture, energy, finance and culture and is scheduled to meet with King Willem-Alexander and Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

From the Netherlands, Xi will travel to France and visit the UNESCO headquarters.

He is also scheduled to meet his French counterpart Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. The leaders are due to sign agreements to boost Sino-French cooperation on energy, aerospace, urbanization, agriculture and finance.

Xi will then travel to Germany to meet President Joachim Gauck, Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders.

It will be the first visit to Germany by a Chinese president for eight years and Xi and German leaders will set the tone for Sino-German ties in the next five to 10 years.

Apart from Berlin, Xi will also visit Duesseldorf.

Leaders from the two sides will sign cooperation documents covering sectors including industry, aerospace, science and technology as well as culture and education.

Jia Xiudong, a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, said that based on frequent mutual visits by high-ranking leaders from both China and Germany and constantly increasing bilateral trade, ties between the two nations "have kicked into high gear in the past decade".

"Economic ties will continue to be the engine for ties between Beijing and Berlin in the future," Jia added.

Xi will end his European visit in Belgium, where he will meet King Philippe, Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and parliamentary officials and sign cooperation agreements covering trade, science and technology, and education.

In Belgium, Xi will also visit the European Union headquarters and set the direction for future Sino-EU relations when he meets President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, European Parliament President Martin Schulz and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

It is the 50th anniversary this year of the two nations establishing diplomatic relations.


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