Chinese weekend under way

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang arrived in Riga Friday at the start of two days of China-themed talks and meetings.

Among his first duties was laying a wreath with Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kučinskis at the Freedom Monument in the center of the city - a task he performed as snow continued to fall.

Then after the bilateral meeting, the heads of both governments participated in the signing ceremony of six 'Memoranda of Understanding' between the two countries: the Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation within the framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiatives, the Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation of Think Tanks, the Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation between small and medium size enterprises, the agreement of using import certificates, as well as the Memorandum of Understanding for transport and logistics within the initiative One Belt, One Road.

The Latvian government released a press release about the meeting describing how expressions of mutual good intentions were made on both sides but it was short on direct quotes from either prime minister.

The only exception was a solitary line from Kučinskis: "I am pleased that today we can sign such a comprehensive memorandum as One Belt, One Road.”

"M. Kučinskis emphasized that Latvia is ready for cooperation with China in development of a transit project, as well as for China’s investments in the development of the infrastructure of ports and the strategic partnership for airline company Air Baltic and the airport Rīga," the press release said.

"The Prime Minister of China was given an example of how, by bringing together goods for the European markets and their distribution to Europe directly from Latvia, the enterprises from China could offer their production at a rate 5-6% cheaper on average which would mean essential competitiveness advantages both for China and Latvia," the release continued.

Li Keqiang's reaction to this data was not noted, however the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported:

"Upon arrival, Premier Li said the 16+1 cooperation mechanism has seen steady development and fruitful results since it was founded in 2012, and has become a key platform for friendship and common development between China and CEE countries."

The influential Chinese leader will stay in Riga until Sunday morning, attending a summit with leaders from Central and Eastern Europe on Saturday. 

The official Chinese government portal also includes a video titled "Latvian Bigwigs On China-CEE Summit" which shows an all-male line up of Latvian representatives anticipating the visit.

In the video, Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis describes Li Keqiang as "very open-minded, very constructive and I understand he is result-orientated, like me."

 

 

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