BEIJING — Premier Li Keqiang will attend the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly and pay official visits to Canada and Cuba, during a trip on Sept 18-28.
The visit will mark several “firsts,” namely Premier Li’s first appearance at the UN General Assembly, the initial trip under the annual dialogue mechanism between Chinese premier and Canadian prime minister, and the first official visit to Cuba by a Chinese premier in 56 years since the two countries established diplomatic ties.
It is expected that Premier Li will present Chinese solutions to various global challenges, and bolster ties with both Canada and Cuba during the upcoming trip.
UN APPEARANCE: CHINESE SOLUTIONS IN SPOTLIGHT
The 71st session of the UN General Assembly was kicked off on Sept 13, involving representatives from 193 UN members, to discuss a wide range of global issues including sustainable development, the implementation of the Paris Climate Pact, terrorism and the anti-globalization trend, among others.
Against such a backdrop and in a year which marks the 45th anniversary of transferring China’s seat in the UN to the government of the People’s Republic of China, Premier Li’s first appearance at the General Assembly has drawn intensive global attention.
His packed itinerary in the UN includes addressing the general debate of the UN General Assembly session, attending a symposium on 2030 sustainable development agenda, two meetings on refugee issues and several bilateral meetings.
“President Xi Jinping, while attending activities commemorating the 70th anniversary of the UN last year, presented a raft of measures and promises in support of the multilateral organization, and Premier Li is expected to give an update on the implementation of these measures and promises,” said Yang Xiyu, a researcher from the China Institute of International Studies.
Apart from being a follow-up on President Xi’s UN pledges last year, Premier Li’s UN tour is also expected to shed light on China’s diplomatic policies and its stance on various issues, said Yang, adding that this part will allow the world to know China better.
The Premier will also meet with representatives from the finance sector, think tanks, and media organizations in the United States.
“The arrangement showcases the innovation and strategic thinking by a new generation of Chinese leaders in conducting public diplomacy,” commented Yang.
DEBUT OF CHINA-CANADA PM DIALOGUE: NEW ERA FOR BILATERAL TIES
Premier Li’s tour is the first visit by a Chinese premier to “the country of maple leaf” in 13 years. Moreover, it is the one to start an annual PM dialogue between the two countries.
The annual dialogue is a mechanism established in the end of August when Premier Li met with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau in Beijing.
Their exchange of visits in less than a month is a sign of “fast warming” bilateral relations, according to a number of analysts. The dialogue to be unveiled, from its topics to results, is drawing an intensive attention as what Premier Li’s Canada trip is about.
Premier Li is scheduled to attend more than 20 events during his stay in cities from Ottawa to Montreal, ranging from political talks, economic and trade forums to people-to-people or cultural exchanges, which are expected to enhance China-Canada political mutual trust and practical cooperation.
Participation in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is “clearly Canada’s best choice,” Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau has commented. In fact, it is in the best interests of both countries to jointly make bigger the cake of win-win cooperation between them.
China is Canada’s second largest trading partner, source of imports and market of exports. Their economies are highly complemented, with huge potential to be tapped in sectors particularly of high-tech, agriculture, energy resources as well as third party cooperation.
Trudeau has expressed the belief that a strengthened bilateral relationship will bring new opportunities for Canadian enterprises and for Chinese companies to expand business in Canada.
“Overall, China is doing clever work in building a multi-pole economic and diplomatic framework featuring positive interaction, mutual benefit and win-win result, through cooperation in different fields and with different focuses with such developed powers as Germany, France and Canada,” Yang said.
CUBA-CHINA FRIENDSHIP DEEPENED
Premier Li’s trip to Cuba is the first official visit by a Chinese premier since the two countries established diplomatic relations 56 years ago.
Ruben Zardoya, a professor at the University of Havana, described the visit as a “major event” in the relationship between Cuba and China.
He also expressed his hopes that Li’s visit could bring “new investment, technology and closer ties with the outside world” to Cuba.
China and Cuba are “good friends, brothers and comrades,” and their relationship has become sound and mature after having been developing for over half a century.
Bilateral relationship is now facing new development opportunities at a time when Cuba, which is striving to update its economic growth mode and seeking a diversified diplomatic strategy, places more value on its ties with China.
During his visit, Premier Li is expected to attend the welcome ceremony held by President of the Cuban Council of State and Council of Ministers Raul Castro Ruz and exchange views with him on issues of common concern.
The two countries are also expected to sign more than 30 cooperation documents in such fields as economy, technology, financing, industrial capacity, quality control and environmental protection.
China is Cuba’s second largest trading partner, while Cuba is China’s largest trading partner in the Caribbean region.
Xu Shicheng, a researcher with the Latin America Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that trade and economic ties between China and Cuba have been growing rapidly, but the total volume of bilateral trade is not very large.
“The people and government of Cuba hope that Premier Li’s visit could give a strong boost to the development of Cuba-China trade and economic ties,” Xu said.
Cuba’s manufacturing sector and infrastructure, which are relatively underdeveloped, are in need of China’s machines, equipment and technical staff, the researcher said. “Industrial capacity cooperation between the two countries enjoys big potential.”