Croatian Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butković met in Beijing with Chinese Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng. According to information from the ministry, the two officials discussed the co-operation between the two countries in the area of transport, including the possibility of introducing direct flights to Beijing from Croatia, reports Večernji List on January 22, 2019.
Butković informed Xiaopeng with projects currently being implemented by Croatia. The meeting highlighted the importance of the arrival of the Chinese cargo to the port of Rijeka. Another topic which was discussed was the introduction of flights to Beijing from Zagreb.
The topic of direct flights between China and Croatia has been discussed for a long time. China’s ambassador to Croatia, Hu Zhaoming, has already spoken about the need for their introduction, and the topic again came to the forefront after a Chinese consortium won the tender to build the Pelješac Bridge.
Hainan Airlines is often mentioned as an airline that would introduce the flights. That would be the only direct link between China and the wider region. Until the end of last year, Hainan had twice a week flights from Beijing to Belgrade, but after a little more than a year it discontinued them due to the low number of passengers. On the other hand, during the first ten months of last year, 216,000 Chinese tourists visited Croatia, which was 43 per cent more than in the same period of 2017.
The meeting with the Chinese Transport Minister was the first in a series of meetings that the delegation of the Croatian Ministry of Transport, led by Minister Oleg Butković, will hold in China, where he will stay on an official visit until 26 January.
The visit to China of the Croatian delegation comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Transport, Croatian Railways, Croatian Roads and the Rijeka Port Authority, is part of the process of intensifying relations between the two countries and preparations for the upcoming summit of 16 Eastern and Central European Countries and China (Initiative 16 + 1), which Croatia will host later this year.
The Ministry stated that Butković informed his Chinese counterpart about the geostrategic position of Croatia and projects in the area of railway infrastructure. Li Xiaopeng said that the Chinese side supported their companies in taking part in tenders and complying with Croatia’s regulations. He also said that the cooperation of the two countries in the field of infrastructure was just starting, and will continue to deepen with projects which are part of the Belt and Road initiative and China + 16.
More news on the cooperation between Croatia and China can be found in the Business section.
Translated from Večernji List (reported by Josip Bohutinski).