Chinese President Xi Jinping holds a welcome ceremony for Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen before their talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, April 8, 2018. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and visiting Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen agreed Sunday to establish a Sino-Austrian friendly strategic partnership and advance bilateral pragmatic cooperation.
Invited by Xi, Van der Bellen headed a large delegation on his state visit to China, including Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, four cabinet ministers, and members of the business community.
Xi said the visit revealed the great importance that Van der Bellen and the Austrian government attached to ties with China.
Van der Bellen is scheduled to lay a wreath at the Monument to the People's Heroes in downtown Beijing on Monday. Xi said it showed the Austrian president's respect towards and friendship with the Chinese people.
Calling Austria an important cooperative partner of China in Europe, Xi said the Austrian new government has written into its working program the contents of enhancing relations with China as well as the Belt and Road Initiative. He expressed appreciation for that.
Hailing the complementarity between the two economies and great potential for stronger cooperation, Xi asked the two countries to take the opportunity of establishing bilateral friendly strategic partnership to strengthen political guidance and top-level design, and maintain high-level exchanges.
Xi proposed to upgrade cooperation in such areas as judiciary, security and law enforcement, anti-corruption, fugitive repatriation and asset recovery.
He also called on both sides to enhance coordination in multilateral affairs, and jointly safeguard world peace and stability.
China appreciates Austria's open attitude towards Chinese investment, and will open more to the world, Xi said.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. Xi said China's support for Europe's integration remains unchanged, expressing his hope that Austria will play a constructive role in cementing China-EU strategic trust and comprehensive cooperation.
For his part, Van der Bellen said Austria is committed to strengthening cooperation with China in such areas as trade, investment, scientific research, environmental protection, clean energy, culture and sports.
Austria highly values China's positive role in global affairs including countering climate change, and expects to enhance coordination with China, he said.
As Austria prepares to take over the rotating presidency of the EU in July this year, Van der Bellen said the country expects to play a positive role in EU-China cooperation.
He said his current China visit, leading such a large delegation, is unprecedented and showed the great enthusiasm of various circles in Austria for enhancing ties with China, he added.
Austria expects fruitful cooperation with China, and is committed to facilitating stronger bilateral ties, Van der Bellen said.
After their talks, the two presidents witnessed the signing of several bilateral cooperation agreements, ranging from the areas of Belt and Road cooperation, judiciary, innovation, transportation and modern distribution, to culture, sports and intellectual property rights.
In a joint statement released by the two countries Sunday on establishing the friendly strategic partnership, they welcome the signing of a bilateral judicial assistance treaty on criminal cases, on the basis of which the two sides will deliberate the possibility of signing a bilateral extradition treaty.
According to the statement, they will work together to open market for each other's high-quality products. For example, China will import pork and fruit from Austria. China also welcomes Austria to participate in the first China International Import Expo to be held in November 2018.
The Austrian side is willing to offer China broad experience and expertise in China's preparation for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, said the statement. The two countries will take the opportunity of the 2018 China-EU Tourism Year to strengthen cooperation in tourism.
The two sides will work together to crack down on terrorism of all forms, and will enhance cooperation in fighting cross-border crimes, corruption and cybercrime, according to the statement.
Also on Sunday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with Van der Bellen.
Li said China expects to expand two-way trade and investment with Austria, and foster new growth in such areas as high-end manufacturing, science innovation and energy saving.
"China is willing to deepen win-win cooperation with Austria under the Belt and Road Initiative and the 16+1 cooperation framework," he added.
Li said China stands ready to work with European countries including Austria to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, jointly fight against protectionism in all forms, maintain and enhance multilateral trade system.
Van der Bellen said Austria supports trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and will take the opportunity of EU rotating presidency to boost Europe-Asia cooperation.
After his stay in Beijing, the Austrian president will travel to Boao in Hainan Province to attend the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2018.