Albania-China Traditional Friendship Bearing New Fruits -Interview of the Ambassador of China Mrs. Jiang Yu with Albanian Daily News
Albania-China Traditional Friendship Bearing New Fruits
-Interview of the Ambassador of China Mrs. Jiang Yu with Albanian Daily News
1. China is a huge country with a population of 1.3 billion. A well-known diplomat told me recently that given its size the country and its people should do the utmost to move forward, particularly in the economic and social field. 2016 is coming to a close. What are the expectations of China for 2017 in these fields?
-2016 is the first year of the implementation of "the 13th five-year Plan" of China. China has adapted to and led a new normal of economic development, deepening the overall reform, promoting innovation-driven growth, speeding up the transformation of the way of development and economic restructuring so as to keep the performance of the economy at a reasonable range. In the first three quarters of 2016, Chinese economy grew by 6.7%, 10.67 million urban jobs were created while the income gap between the urban and rural areas continued to narrow down. The quality and efficiency of the development of the Chinese economy are continuously improving, the new growth drivers are getting stronger and new forms of businesses are constantly emerging, many industries in various regions are undergoing transformation and favorable elements are increasing.
China is now at a crucial stage moving towards the goal of building a moderately well-off society. Under the guidance of 5 development concepts which are: innovation, joint coordination, greenery, opening up and sharing, and centering on the supply-side structural reform, we are fostering a new economic structure and strengthening new growth drivers to promote a sustainable and healthy development of the Chinese economy.
The development of China will create more opportunities for the entire world. It is estimated that in the next five years, the overall volume of China's imports will reach 8 trillion US dollars, the foreign capital used by China will amount to 600 billion US dollars, the Chinese overseas investments will amount to 750 billion US dollars and nearly 700 million Chinese will travel abroad as tourists. These numbers mean an ever bigger market, more capital and products, and greater opportunities for cooperation with other countries. China's market is open, and will become more open as days go by, bringing new opportunities to enterprises of various countries, including Albanian ones.
2. The rapid economic development of China is partly due to the boost of its economic exchanges and cooperation with the world, a small part of which is Albania. What are some of the achievements in the bilateral exchanges between China and Albania, and in your opinion what more can be done in the future?
-This year, the Chinese-Albanian economic and trade exchanges have achieved a stable growth. From January to September, the overall volume of trade between China and Albania amounted to 334 million US dollars, which is 9.8% higher as compared to the same period of last year. Cooperation on big projects between the two countries has marked a breakthrough. After the smooth completion of acquisition of Mother Teresa International Airport and the Bankers Company by Chinese investors, China has become a major investor in Albania, something that will serve as a healthy example and precedent for both sides for the growth of economic and commercial cooperation in the future. At present, talks are under way regarding some projects in which Chinese enterprises are interested, for example, the Berat by-pass, the Blue Corridor highway and other projects in the energy field.
China and Albania have a deep traditional friendship and strong mutual political trust, and we also compliment each other in the economic and commercial field and have great cooperation potentials. The "16+1" Cooperation Initiative is an effective platform for both sides to transform our friendship into concrete results. It will undoubtedly create great opportunities for speeding up the development of bilateral economic and trade relations. China will continue to encourage its entrepreneurs to invest in Albania under market principles, and especially to cooperate with the Albanian side in the fields of energy, infrastructure, water resources, agriculture, industrial zones, human resources etc. We hope that Albania will grasp the historical opportunity that the " 16+1" Cooperation Initiative has brought about, further improve business environment, protect effectively the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese investments so as to make Albania more attractive to Chinese investors. The Chinese side wishes to work together with the Albanian side to build up confidence, seek a greater convergence of interests, tap our potentials so as to achieve mutual benefits and win-win results for the well-being of our two peoples.
3. We are witnessing a special process of twinning of cities and provinces of China and Albania. What are they and what do both sides expect from such a new form of cooperation? In addition there is a growth of interest in the culture and history of your country and likewise there is evidence that more youth are learning Chinese in Albania. How do you consider this trend and have Albanians asked for your encouragement in these aspects?
-The exchanges at local levels are an important part of our bilateral relations. During the last two years, the exchanges and cooperation at local levels have become more active through our joint efforts. Besides Beijing-Tirana, which are the first Chinese-Albanian twin cities, five other Chinese cities and provinces have established friendly ties and have started a series of exchanges with their Albanian counterparts. This year the Mayor of Tirana visited Beijing to discuss the deepening of cooperation in the twinning cities framework; a delegation of the city of Yangzhou paid a return visit to Vlora; the Head of the region of Shkodra and the Mayor of Durres respectively visited the province of Henan and the city of Shantou in China; the mayors of Berat and Fier were respectively in the cities of Luoyang and Lanzhou for economic & commercial activities, the cities of Berat and Luoyan have signed an agreement for the establishment of twinning relations, while the cities of Fier and Lanzhou officially established relations of twinning cities.
The friendly exchanges between our local governments will have a broad and long-term influence on the deepening of mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples. They have become a bright spot for bilateral relations and a new platform for pragmatic cooperation.
In recent years, the interest in the history and culture of China, especially in the Chinese language has grown among the young Albanians, something that boosts the trend toward the deepening of friendship and healthy and sustainable development of the Sino-Albanian relations. More than 600 people are learning the Chinese language at the Confucius Institute in the Tirana University, which signifies the ever growing influence of this Institute. At the same time, there are 5 elementary and middle schools where Chinese is taught. In December, a delegation of students from universities of Hongkong visited Tirana on a mutual exchange with their Albanian counterparts. In the future, the Chinese Embassy will continue to work with the Albanian government, universities and relevant schools to encourage exchanges between the youth of the two countries. We will offer more help and provide more opportunities for the Albanian students and pupils who wish to learn the Chinese language. They will be a new generation to carry on traditional Sino-Albanian friendship.
4. The political exchanges have been intensified during 2016 with some important delegations visiting Albania and Albanian leaders visiting Beijing such as the recent visit of the Speaker, Ilir Meta last October. How much do such contacts influence the relations between the two countries? What messages have they sent and do we expect any other high- level visits in the future?
-In 2016 there have been more high-level visits between the two countries, something that has made this year a 'harvest' year. The mutual political trust has been consolidated and deepened through these visits. The Chinese senior officials like the Deputy Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China, Mr. Ji Bingxuan, the State Councilor of China, Mr. Yang Jing and the Deputy Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China for Disciplinary Inspections, Mr. Zhao Hongzhu visited Albania respectively. In the meantime, the Speaker of Parliament of Albania, Mr. Ilir Meta visited China, the Albanian Prime Minister, Mr. Edi Rama met his Chinese counterpart Mr. Li Keqiang in Riga at the annual meeting of the leaders of the " 16+1" Cooperation Initiative; the ministers of Foreign Affairs, Culture, Health, the President of the Albanian High Court, all paid visits to China. Eight agreements in different fields of cooperation were signed this year.
The frequent mutual visits between China and Albania play an irreplaceably leading role for further promotion of pragmatic bilateral cooperation in various fields. In the future, the Chinese Embassy will continue to promote mutual visits at higher levels so as to lay a solid political foundation and provide effective guarantees for an overall upgrading of Sino-Albanian traditional friendly relations.