China, Belgium seek stronger cooperation as Belgian PM visits


Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 31, 2016. (Xinhua/Wang Ye)

BEIJING, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) — China and Belgium agreed on Monday to expand cooperation in such areas as investment, new energy and in the Belt and Road Initiative.

In his meeting with visiting Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on both sides to properly handle issues regarding respective core interests and major concerns, and expand cooperation in such key areas as manufacturing, new energy, environmental protection and services.

The two countries should explore cooperation in high-end technology and industries with high added value, Xi said, urging Belgium to take opportunities provided by the Belt and Road Initiative to boost development of the China-Europe and Asia-Europe logistics industry and cross-border e-commerce.

The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Xi in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes.

“China appreciates and welcomes Belgium’s willingness to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and wishes that Belgium becomes an AIIB member country as soon as possible,” Xi said.

Xi said that he hoped Belgium would urge the European Union to fulfill its obligations under Article 15 of the Protocol on China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in due time.

WTO obligations require that the EUs end its “surrogate country system” by Dec. 11, 2016, under which costs of production in a third country are used to calculate the value of products from non-market economies.

Michel is on an official visit to China from Sunday to Tuesday, as the two countries celebrate the 45th anniversary of their diplomatic ties.

He recalled Xi’s state visit to Belgium in 2014 and Belgian King Philippe’s return visit last year, vowing to cement cooperation with China in diversified areas, including investment, innovation, aviation, new energy and infrastructure.

Belgium is committed to boosting EU-China ties featuring mutual trust and benefit, he added.

China’s top legislator Zhang Dejiang also met with Michel, earlier on Monday. Zhang said the Chinese National People’s Congress hopes to beef up exchanges and cooperation with the Belgian federal parliament, enhance dialogues on issues such as democracy, rule of law and ecological conservation, and ratify agreements on judicial cooperation.

Michel said his current China trip will help to strengthen bilateral trust and friendship, pledging to enhance cooperation with China in politics, diplomacy, economy and culture.

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