Croatian Prime Minister Visits Hangzhou, China

By 4 November 2018

ZAGREB, November 4, 2018 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Saturday visited Hangzhou, the capital of Zheijang, one of China's richest provinces, where he met with Che Jun, head of the province.

The province, which has a population of over 55 million, cooperates with Croatia at local level. It has a cooperation agreement with Istria County, recently it has signed a similar agreement with the Town of Split, and its city of Nangbo, the world's largest port, has been cooperating with Rijeka for several years.

"We talked with the leaders of the province about the further advancement of relations, given that half the trade with China comes from this province, which also has the largest port in the world," Plenković said. "We wish to attract further interest, notably in Chinese investment in Croatia. Here is also the headquarters of Alibaba, one of the most important global companies, which says enough about why we chose to come to Hangzhou," he said.

Zheijang accounts for 400 million dollars of the 900 million dollars in trade between China and Croatia.

Plenkovic said he planned to visit the 36-kilometre-long Hangzhou Bay bridge on Sunday. "Tomorrow we will visit one of the biggest sea bridges, which was built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation. For us, it is building the strategic and symbolically important Pelješac Bridge."

"That project is important both for Croatia and for China. For us, it is important because it’s an emblematic project which will connect two separate parts of the country, and for you, it's important because it's an unprecedented project in the cooperation between China and a European Union country," Plenković said.

He reiterated that he was pleased the China+16 initiative would meet in Croatia in 2019. "That's an opportunity for us to strengthen the relations with China," he said, adding that next year bilateral cooperation will focus on culture and tourism. "That's compatible with the China+16 initiative, where we will focus on cooperation between small and medium-sized companies, which are the backbone of every economy."

After the talks with Plenković, Che said Zheijang's cooperation with Croatia was excellent and recalled that the two countries were also linked by Marco Polo. The two countries are tied by a big friendship, both between China and Croatia and between Zheijang and Croatia. Marco Polo was born in Croatia and he introduced Europeans to Hanghzhou, he added.

The famous Venetian traveller from the end of the 13th century who, according to legend, was born on the Croatian island of Korčula, described Hanghzhou in his travel memoirs as the greatest city in the world. Che said this confirmed the two sides had good relations in the past.

It is necessary to expand cooperation in other areas, such as small and medium-sized enterprise, trade, culture, exchange of students and tourism. The potential for that is unlimited, he said.

Plenković on Friday began a five-day visit to China aimed at bolstering Croatia's political and economic relations with the world's second largest economy.

For more on Croatia’s relations with China, click here.