Red carpet rolled out for Chinese visitor

Take note – story published 7 years ago

As Riga residents cannot have failed to notice, Latvia is currently being visited by one of the top figures in the Chinese Communist Party.

The massive motorcade of Chinese parliamentary speaker Zhang Dejiang has been criss-crossing the capital repeatedly as he pays visits to Saeima speaker Inara Murniece, President Raimonds Vejonis and Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis.

The posters of China that dominated Riga's billboard sites during a meeting between Chinese and Eastern European leaders in Riga last year, and paid for by the Chinese embassy, have been retrieved from storage and pictures of the Great Wall, Forbidden City and other Chinese images are back with a vengeance.

A statement released after the meeting between Kucinskis and Zhang Dejiang said Latvia supported  China's "Belt and road" and "3 seas" logistics initiatives.

"During the meeting the officials discussed bilateral cooperation, especially in economic relations. Both sides agreed that there is a good basis for expansion of economic cooperation with particular emphasis on the transport and logistics sector," said the statement.

Possible Chinese involvement in the Rail Baltica project and the airBaltic airline were also discussed, along with mutual trade. China currently ranks in 11th place among Latvia's foreign trade partners.

Kucinskis reportedly invited Chinese athletes competing in the luge, skeleton and bobsled disciplines to prepare for next year's Winter Olympics in South Korea at Latvian facilities, which he confirmed in a tweet.

In return Zhang Dejiang invited Kucinskis to China for a visit.

However surprisingly no mention was made of the investment vehicle Latvia signed up to with much fanfare at last year's summit meeting, the SINO-CEEF Holding Company Limited.

Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis stressed the importance of tourism and praised the "remarkable success" of food exports from Latvia to China.

For her part, Saeima speaker Inara Murniece gave an interview to Chinese news agency Xinhua in which she said:

"We have many things in common... Latvians have strong interest in the Chinese art, culture and history."

That interest would seem to extend to members of parliament with Murniece revealing that no fewer than 34 of the 100 deputies in parliament are members of the group for cooperation with China's single-party parliament and "regular visits take place both at the highest level and the level of the foreign affairs committees."

Seen a mistake?

Select text and press Ctrl+Enter to send a suggested correction to the editor

Select text and press Report a mistake to send a suggested correction to the editor

Related articles


Most important