RIGA — The upcoming Riga summit between China and the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries will give new momentum to Latvia’s relationship with the world’s second largest economy, Chinese Ambassador to Latvia Huang Yong said.
This is the fifth summit of China and the CEE countries, and the first time that it takes place in a Baltic nation.
“It is a great opportunity to elevate bilateral ties between China and Latvia, and to further develop China-CEE cooperation,” Huang told Xinhua in an interview ahead of the summit.
Since China and Latvia established diplomatic ties 25 years ago, the two countries have been developing their relationship at a steady pace, which is based on mutual respect and friendship between the people of the two countries, the ambassador said.
“It has now come to a crucial stage for them to take the quality and the efficiency of their cooperation to the next level, so as to yield more concrete results,” he explained.
“The summit is expected to propose new projects and initiatives, setting the direction for the next phase of the China-Latvia relations,” he added.
The countries’ strategies for development are complementary in many aspects, according to the ambassador, which provide tremendous space for cooperation in a variety of sectors.
“To explore new markets in Asia is part of Latvia’s national development strategy, which sets China as a cooperation priority, while China has included Latvia in its Belt and Road Initiative as an important transit into Europe, and the proposal has received positive response from the Latvian authorities,” Huang elaborated.
Aiming to secure its position as an Eurasian logistics hub, Latvia is keen to boost strategic cooperation with Chinese enterprises in railways, aviation and ports.
A new rail freight route was inaugurated recently linking Riga and Yiwu, a manufacturing powerhouse in East China. The first cargo train from Yiwu is expected to arrive in Riga on Nov 5.
Huang hailed this as another example of cooperation success within the Belt and Road framework.
“With this direct freight route, more Latvian products can reach Chinese customers.” he said. “For example, Latvian ice creams and dairy products are in high demand in the Chinese market; Stenders, a popular Latvian cosmetics brand, is also gaining traction in China.”
“The China-Latvia relations will see more rapid growth under the China-CEE cooperation framework, especially in the transport and logistics sectors,” he added.
Meanwhile, the people-to-people exchanges between China and Latvia are also on the rise. A Confucius Institute has been established in Riga to teach the Chinese language and culture. A Latvia-themed cultural festival was held in Beijing earlier this year, attracting more Chinese to this Baltic country.
“I believe that the summit will be a great success and its outcomes will benefit people from both countries,” said Huang.