ZAGREB, April 10, 2019 – Croatia and China are ready to open “a diamond period” in their relations, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said in Zagreb on Wednesday, signalling how much attention Beijing is attaching to cooperation with Croatia.
Li arrived in Croatia on Tuesday to strengthen relations with countries in central and east Europe which China wishes to include more strongly in its One Belt One Road project.
Li arrived in Zagreb with a 250-strong delegation, continuing the intensive contacts between Beijing and Zagreb of recent years. This is the first visit of a Chinese Prime Minister to Croatia, but also Li’s sixth meeting with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković over the past two and a half years.
Li said this showed that the countries were ready to raise their relations, established 27 years ago, to a higher level.
“Croatia is a beautiful country, also known as the Pearl of the Adriatic and the Mediterranean,” Li said at the start of a meeting between the two countries’ delegations.
“Although geographically far away, we are ready to bring our hearts closer and open a diamond period in our relations,” Li said.
Croatia and China will sign several economic agreements on Wednesday, including agreements regarding the railway infrastructure and agriculture.
Relations between Zagreb and Beijing have been upgraded to a higher level since the China Road and Bridge Corporation was selected to build the Pelješac Bridge.
The next large concrete project could be the modernisation of the Zagreb-Rijeka lowland railway and Croatian ports, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said ahead of Prime Minister Li’s arrival.
The two governments will sign six bilateral agreements in Zagreb and another four in Dubrovnik during the 16 + 1 China – CEEC and Southeast Europe summit.
The agreements concern railroads, agriculture, digital cooperation between the state administration and China’s Huawei company, the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR), in science and sports.
Annual trade between the two countries amounts to about one billion euro, mostly in China’s favour. Last year, 250,000 Chinese tourists visited Croatia.
More news about relations between Croatia and China can be found in the Politics section.