Diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Croatia were established in May 1992, and the 30th anniversary of their establishment is a good opportunity to summarize the development and progress of the ties.
Sports is one of the areas that demonstrates the positive development trajectory of relations between our countries.
Their development is evident throughout the years, with 2003 a particularly interesting year, as the Agreement on Cooperation between the National Olympic Committees of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Croatia was signed. Since then, our relations have been developed intensively in various areas.
The extremely successful organization of the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008 gave additional impetus to the development of relations. That year, the especially significant cooperation agreement between Beijing Sport University and the faculty of kinesiology at the University of Zagreb was signed.
This step resulted in the signing of another agreement on cooperation, between BSU and the University of Zagreb during the visit of BSU leaders to Zagreb the following year. This is the first such agreement on cooperation between the two universities of China and Croatia, which meant a further step forward in cooperation in the field of higher education and science, much wider than cooperation in the field of sports.
Along with a large number of athletes and coaches who were or are in China or Croatia today on the basis of the mentioned agreements, this cooperation reflects a high degree of friendship and bilateral cooperation.
As a particularly interesting outcome of the cooperation, I must mention the appearance of the BSU handball team in the regional South East Handball Association handball league played in central and southeast Europe. This is a unique case in Europe, given that an entirely Chinese sports team regularly competes in a sports league in Croatia.
The long-term collaboration that has expanded to higher education and science has also resulted in an exceptional collaboration in higher education.
For example, the best Croatian private faculty, at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management, has signed agreements on cooperation and exchange of professors and students with eight Chinese universities.
Such good relations are reflected in the economic sphere, with Chinese companies being increasingly present in Croatia. An example of this increased presence is China Road and Bridge Corp, which is currently completing the largest infrastructure project in Croatia－the Peljesac Bridge. This project is aimed at connecting Croatia's territory, and the bridge is among the largest of this type built in Europe this century.
Chinese companies are also active in the renewable energy sector. Recently, the 156-megawatt Senj wind farm, worth 230 million euros ($259 million), was built by the Chinese company Norinco International Cooperation, marking the largest Chinese investment in Croatia to this day.
Looking at and analyzing everything that has happened over these 30 years of cooperation, we can say that China and Croatia have enjoyed exceptional cooperation in various fields－cooperation that is based on appreciation and mutual respect and is an example of cooperation between countries regardless of their size, geographical position or economic strength.
As an example of the importance of sports overcoming all obstacles, this year, under extremely demanding conditions, the Winter Olympics were held in Beijing. The successful staging of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games represents a great victory for sports over the COVID-19 pandemic, which has not allowed us to return to normal life for two years.
The Games can also be described as "historical" because Beijing 2022 was the first winter edition of the Olympic Games in the time of a pandemic and was held only six months after the Summer Olympics, which had earlier been postponed. All of those who performed in Beijing under such circumstances were already winners. One may congratulate the organizers and all the athletes for their perseverance, commitment, patience and, finally, for a great sports result and impressive Games.
The author, Zlatko Matesa, the president of the Croatian Olympic Committee and former prime minister of the Republic of Croatia (1995-2000).