Sunday, 4 December 2022

CNN: There is an Illegal Chinese Police Station in Zagreb

December 4, 2022 - Chinese police officers were seen on a joint patrol with their Croatian colleagues on the streets of the capital Zagreb in July. According to CNN, Chinese police stations were set up across Europe, including Croatia.

As Poslovni / CNN reported, Beijing has set up more than 100 so-called overseas police stations worldwide, including in Croatia, to monitor, harass, and in some cases, return Chinese nationals living in exile.

At the same time, writes CNN, the Chinese are using bilateral security agreements concluded with countries in Europe and Africa to gain a broad international presence.

Madrid-based human rights group Safeguard Defenders has found evidence that China operates 48 additional police stations abroad since the group first revealed the existence of 54 such stations in September.

A new report called "Patrol and Persuade" focuses on the scale of the network and examines the role that joint police initiatives between China and several European countries, including Italy, Croatia, Serbia, and Romania, have played in the expansion of China's overseas outposts.

Among the new claims made by the group is that a Chinese national was forced to return home by operatives working undercover at a Chinese overseas police station in the suburbs of Paris, recruited specifically for the purpose, in addition to earlier revelations that two other Chinese were forcibly returned from Europe – one in Serbia, the other in Spain.

China struck agreements on joint police patrols with Croatia and Serbia between 2018 and 2019 as part of the nation's growing strategic influence as outlined in China's foreign policy priorities, CNN reports.

Chinese police officers were seen on a joint patrol with their Croatian colleagues on the streets of the capital Zagreb in July of this year.

A Zagreb police official interviewed by the Chinese news agency Xinhua said that patrols are crucial for "protection and attracting foreign tourists."

A 2019 Reuters report said Chinese police officers joined Serbian police on patrol in Belgrade to help deal with the influx of Chinese tourists.

One Serbian official said the Chinese had no authority to make the arrests.

Safeguard Defenders, which searches publicly available official Chinese documents for evidence of human rights abuses, said it had identified four different police jurisdictions of China's Ministry of Public Security active in at least 53 countries, spanning all four corners of the world, allegedly to help Chinese expatriates with their needs abroad.

The NGO claims Italy hosted 11 Chinese police stations, including in Venice and Prato, near Florence.

Beijing has denied having an undeclared police force outside its territory, and its Foreign Ministry told CNN in November: “We hope the relevant parties will stop exaggerating to create tensions. Using this as an excuse to smear China is unacceptable.”

China has argued that the facilities are administrative centers set up to help Chinese expatriates with tasks such as renewing their driver's licenses.

China also said the offices are a response to the covid-19 pandemic, which has left many citizens in other countries unable to renew their identity documents.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the overseas stations are staffed by volunteers, but in the meantime, it has emerged that in some cases, they are people employed on multi-year contracts.

According to CNN, unreported consular activities outside of a country's official diplomatic missions are highly unusual and illegal unless the host country has given its express consent.

The suggestion that there is widespread repression of Chinese citizens in foreign countries comes at a crucial time for a nation grappling with its own unrest at home, amid fatigue from the country's restrictive Covid-19 policies as leader Xi Jinping's third term in power begins, CNN reports.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated News section.

Saturday, 26 November 2022

Croatian-Chinese Economic Forum Returned After Three Years

November the 26th, 2022 - Following a three year break, most of which was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, the Croatian-Chinese economic forum made a return to Zagreb recently.

As Marija Brnic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, after being stricter than most of us here in Europe could ever even begin to imagine, China has announced new, slightly milder anti-epidemic measures, which due to the strict policy of "zero cases" have so far meant the absolute closure of the country to foreigners. Tourists still cannot enter China, but in order to mitigate the negative effects on the economy, China is opening up for representatives of multinational companies and of course - for foreign investors. At the same time, state banks will stand more strongly with local companies and China is once again starting a proactive campaign on numerous foreign markets.

As such, the Croatian-Chinese economic forum was successfully held recently here in the City of Zagreb, where about fifteen different Chinese companies conducted business B2B discussions with various Croatian companies. The last time such talks were held exactly three years ago, also here in Zagreb. Chinese companies' interest in doing business in Croatia has only grown after Croatia joined the EU back in summer 2013, and twenty Croatian companies have expressed interest in engaging in direct talks with Chinese businessmen. Mostly, on both sides, we're talking about companies from the agriculture and food industry, as well as those from the IT, energy, and tourism and real estate sector.

Some of the Chinese companies have chosen the Republic of Croatia as a location for their projects here in Europe, specifically Hainan Nanhai Blue Capacity Economic Development, a large economic system operating in various sectors from agriculture, electrical industry to high-tech manufacturing and shipbuilding. In Europe, namely, the company plans to start agricultural production in three countries - in the Czech Republic, Poland and here in Croatia, and the more specific goal is the production of animal feed, meat and meat products.

The company Xi'an TianLong Science and Technology offers cooperation in the research, the development and production of instruments and in vitro diagnostic reagents in the field of genetic testing and molecular diagnostics, and the company BGI Genomics, which operates in an impressive 100 countries, wants to directly establish cooperation in Croatia with medical and scientific institutions for the placement of their technology and research related to genomic sequencing. COFCO International, as a global platform of the Chinese food industry, wants to achieve cooperation in agriculture, forestry and fishing in Croatia.

Anshan Xingong Construction is a Chinese company engaged in the production of building materials, and it is currently examining the possibility of cooperation, and the possibility of overseas transport of heavy cargo with Croatia is being sought by representatives of the Chinese-Polish Joint Stock Shipping Company. Cooperation in the energy industry is being offered by CHINT Noark Electric, which markets its advanced solutions in 140 countries around the world. Ningbo Sanxing Smart Electric also wants to enter the Croatian market with its highly advanced solutions for electricity distribution and use systems, from smart metres, transformers and substations to chargers for electric vehicles.

The Croatia-Chinese economic forum also included representatives of the very well known Huawei Croatia, who want to strengthen their cooperation in the ICT infrastructure industry, and the company Shaanxi Zhongtuo Mine Equipment, which specialises in the development and sale of equipment in the construction of bridges, highways and tunnels, is looking for partners and representatives for the Croatian market.

The largest manufacturer of ball bearings, Xibei Bearing, also wants to explore the Croatian market. Imports from China have been growing strongly this year (amounting to a massive 889 million euros in the first eight months of 2022 alone) and greatly exceed Croatian exports (which weigh in at 62 million euros), which are dominated by raw materials and less processed products such as wood (making up almost 40% of exports) and marble and limestone, as well as construction carpentry. As for Chinese investments in Croatia, they amounted to 179.5 million euros back at the end of 2021.

For more, check out our news section.

Monday, 25 July 2022

Chinese Ambassador Qi Qianjin on Pelješac Bridge, Relations, Tourism, Flights

July 25, 2022 - Ahead of the official opening of the Chinese-built Pelješac Bridge, TCN visits His Excellency Qi Qianjin, Chinese Ambassador to Croatia at his official residence in Zagreb to talk about the bridge, Chinese-Croatian relations, tourism and more. 

1. The opening of the Pelješac Bridge on July 26 will be a historic occasion for Croatia, joining the county for the first time thanks to the Chinese-built bridge. How significant is this project from a Chinese perspective - I understand that the Chinese Prime Minister will be speaking at the opening ceremony by video link?

The Pelješac bridge will be officially opening tomorrow, and I will be there joining the ceremony. I hear that there will be an excellent range of events to mark the occasion. In terms of political significance, I think this is an excellent example of cooperation not only between China and Croatia, but also China and the EU. It is the biggest project so far for a Chinese company, and it will finally realise a long-held dream to connect the south of Croatia to the rest of the country.

I think the Pelješac Bridge is an example of friendship between Croatia and China, and I am already thinking about what could be the next project. It has been an excellent example of cooperation between the leaders of both countries, who have shown a strong willingness to boost political trust, business and trade.

The bridge will have a big impact on the local economy. Now Dubrovnik will be connected to the rest of Croatia, which will be great for tourism, with no more long queues at the two Bosnian borders. This will save a lot of time.

There have been lots of benefits locally, with the project hiring some 1,500 people, which obviously had a significant impact on the local community. In addition to employment, local workers have also learned from Chinese expertise, and 7 Croatian engineers have gained certification from the Faculty of Civil Engineering at Zagreb University, specialising in management and technology. These are additional successes of the bridge story. It is not just about completing the bridge or making a profit. It is about taking responsibility, educating local people, and creating job opportunities. So now Croatians have the know-how to build bridges quicker.

And we even have a Pelješac Bridge love story! A young Croatian girl called Ana Vulić, who graduated from China and came to work on the project, as did the future man of her dreams, who is from Africa and also working on the project and met Ana in China previously. They have now got married, so that is one more happy international story from this great project.

The impact of all the Chinese workers on the local economy has also been significant, especially in the local village. The need for shops, hotels and restaurants has had a considerable impact on the local economy. Great friendships are made, and there is some sadness that the project is ending, but those friendships with Chinese people will continue. So I would say that yes, this project has had a major impact on the local economy.

Our Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, will be taking part in the proceedings via a recorded message. I am not sure exactly what the content will be but I think it will express the continued friendship between the two countries. But not only China and Croatia, for this is a great example of trilateral cooperation between China, Croatia and the EU.

2. Can you tell us a little about the Chinese Embassy's involvement in the whole project from the start? After years of talking about the project (starting around 2005), things moved very quickly. 

The Embassy has been a bridge to help facilitate things, but nothing could have been finished without the dedication and partnership of both leaders. The bridge is important to China, and President Xi Jinping talked about it at the summit he chaired between China and Central and Eastern Europe.

Our Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, visited the bridge back in 2019 with Prime Minister Plenković on a day when it rained heavily. I saw the pictures – it was very dark. And our Prime Minister said that we would need to use the very best technology and equipment to make the Pelješac Bridge a Chinese brand of construction excellence in Croatia, which can resist any challenge.

So many thanks to Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Plenković for all their efforts. Did you know that the opening of the bridge is part of Croatia's four strategic goals, in addition to the Euro, Schengen and membership of OECD? Things are moving well.

Mr. Plenković has visited the bridge more than 10 times, and we at the embassy have been very busy helping to build channels and facilitate, make connections and enhance understanding, with excellent work done by my predecessor, the previous ambassador. We have also been active in encouraging Chinese entrepreneurs to abide by local laws and customs. Getting this project done was not straightforward, and there were plenty of political and economic pressures, but we succeeded thanks to great teamwork on all sides.

3. Once the tender was won, construction moved quickly, and the Pelješac Bridge was finished more or less on time and on budget, something that rarely happens in Croatia. How were the Chinese companies able to deliver when so many projects here are delayed and over budget?

China has developed very rapidly in the last 30-40 years and we have become an expert in construction. We have overcome many challenges with this bridge, including the pandemic, earthquake, Ukraine, and inflation, but we have succeeded, even delivering the project 3 months earlier than planned.

Some people think of Chinese products as cheap and poor quality but I think this bridge will help change that perception. We have lots of experience in bridge building. Pelješac is 2.4 km long, but our longest bridges to Macau and Hong Kong are almost 40 kilometres. We have learned how to build quality with speed. That is part of the secret – but also cooperation and teamwork.

But it is important to note that we are strictly adhering to the rules regarding environmental protection. It is a project that has had some noise pollution issues, and so we introduced some special procedures to minimise the influence on local life. Similarly for waste management and avoiding water pollution.

4. China has a lot of key infrastructure projects all over Europe. How significant is this project in the overall portfolio of European infrastructure projects?

It is very important to China, as this shows the quality and delivery of Chinese excellent here in Europe. China has become an infrastructure Superman, and this bridge shows the quality of the build, as well as excellent cooperation with our European partners.

I think it is a project that has showcased what Chinese companies and workers can do, and it should lead to more projects. Chinese workers and managers have been welcomed because they are humble and hard-working. It has been easy to deal with local people, and this has been a great first partnership with the EU, which provided most of the investment. But there have been lots of other international cooperation – the architect who designed the bridge is Slovenian, for example.

We can also say that the bridge has indicated the significance of the relationship between China and the EU. I cannot deny that we have some major problems with the United States, which regards China as an imaginary enemy. The United States is used to finding enemies, they are very good at that.

But I think Chinese relations with Europe are quite good. President Xi Jinping has held virtual meetings with European leaders during the Ukraine crisis. China is willing to maintain a good relationship and partnership with European countries, and to help develop them on the basis of protecting international peace and promoting economic growth.

It is true that China has a very different ideology than the West, but we have to have dialogue and find points of common interest. We see European countries as friends and partners, and the Pelješac Bridge is one example of that working in practice.

5. Will the Pelješac Bridge project attract much media coverage back in China?

Yes certainly. There will be a lot of social activity, and the China State News agency will cover it. This is a day of celebration for China, as well as Croatia. 

6. Tell us a little about China's strategic goals in Croatia, how big is the Chinese community here, and what are the key activities? 

The Pelješac Bridge might be the most high-profile project, but the biggest Chinese investment so far is in wind farms and green technology. I think China has a role to play in supplying energy, particularly now as Europe has an energy crisis due to the conflict in Ukraine.

We also have some coordination in sports. Croatia is small but it is well-known for sports in China as Croatia is very strong. We love sports but are not so strong by comparison.

And of course tourism. Tourism is about 20% of GDP in Croatia, and it was just starting to take off when the pandemic came. Before the pandemic, there were about 400,000 tourists coming from China each year. I expect this to increase as Chinese tourists become more aware of Croatia. We now have a middle class of some 400 million people.

I also think it is important to enhance relations to push both countries forward. I encourage Chinese companies and entrepreneurs to invest, as well as invite Croatian people to go to China to study or do business. I think we have achieved a lot in the first 30 years of relations and look forward to the next 30.

7. As a global power with a population approaching 2 billion versus a declining population of less than 4 million, it is understandable that the relationship between Croatia and China is reflected in that. How do you see the relationship with Croatia, and what are the key areas of common interest?

I see it as an equal relationship. Chinese people are deeply influenced by our culture. Confucius teaches us to be humble, to treat people the same if they are rich or poor. When the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, it was on a policy of peaceful coexistence, not interfering with other countries internal affairs.

China and Croatia have never had any major disagreements, even though we are very different in size and ideology. We accept that there are differences in ideology, and we do not try and input our system into other countries. We think that Communism and the one-party ruling system work well and efficiently for China, but that does not mean it will for other counties.

We don't want to export our political ideology to other countries. Instead, we focus on the similarities which exist. So, for example, Croatia and China both have administrations that care about the well-being of their citizens and economic prosperity. So both governments can work together to find ways of solving problems and raising livelihoods.

Both countries also support globalisation and multilateralism. I think this is fundamentally important.

8. How active and successful are Croatian companies in the Chinese market, and what are the main opportunities for them?

There are not so many Croatian businesses in China. There is Rimac of course, who is the symbol of hi-tech. He has a Chinese partner. I met Mate Rimac - he represents high technology, and China is the factory of the world, and this could be a great cooperation. 

There is also Infobip, the first unicorn in Croatia. They started operations in China in 2013, and they now have offices in 5 Chinese cities. I met the Infobip CEO last week, and he said the Chinese market is good. We need more Croatian businesses in China. 

We are facing the same challenges - pandemic, inflation, supply chains. The original forecast for GDP growth was 5.8% but now that has been scaled back to 0.2%. This has never happened before, so now is a real challenge. But China remains the biggest market, the factory of the world, and it can produce everything, from a small pen to aircraft. China needs the world, and the world needs China. We have the consumer power of 400 million people in the middle class. Even the United States cannot ignore it. It is a huge market. And China will never close its doors to foreigners because China depends on globalisation. This provides huge opportunities for Croatian businesses. 

9. What advice and mechanisms for help do you have for Croatian businesses looking to enter the Chinese market?

It is important to build these channels. The first stop is here at the embassy, where we are ready to assist in person, as well as having information on the embassy website. Travel to China has been difficult over the last 3 years, but nothing compares to face-to-face contact and trade fairs. We have excellent fairs and expos where you can connect with Chinese businesses. These could be the main channels for Croatian businesses. Additionally, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce is active, and they have an office in Shanghai.  

10. Turning to tourism, how well known is Croatia in China? Tourism was increasing slowly before the pandemic. What is Croatia best-known for in China?

I would say that Croatia is not so popular. When it comes to Europe, Chinese tourists know about Rome, Paris and London, but not so much Croatia. Television is an important medium, and Game of Thrones, which was filmed in Dubrovnik and elsewhere, was very popular and helped put Croatia on the map. 

I was at the Dubrovnik Forum last week and saw tourists from all over the world, but very few Chinese. But next year I think we will see a rise in Chinese tourists - there were 400,000 in 2019. I should also point out that this summer, there are 8 Chinese policemen in Croatia, who are working in partnership with their Croatian counterparts on joint patrols. One more example of partnership, and it is a positive signal.

11. There have been periodic discussions of direct flights to Croatia from Beijing. The pandemic obviously slowed down a lot of things, but are there any ongoing initiatives, and can you expect a direct flight any time soon?

Direct flights would obviously make things easier. When our Premier Li Keqiang visited Croatia in 2019, the topic was discussed with the Croatian Prime Minister. And it was agreed in principle of market and business that when certain conditions are met, then this issue can be moved forward. I am involved in some discussions, but there is nothing concrete to announce yet. Discussions are ongoing but some technical details have to be resolved. But it can succeed. 

12. What advice do you have for Croatian tourism businesses looking to cater to the Chinese tourism market - the potential is huge?

In 2019, before the pandemic, there were 155 million international tourists from China, spending US$134 billion, so the potential is huge. Using technology is one key strategy. Technology is a part of our lives, and we are all - including me - addicted to our phones. Channels such as Tik Tok, which is Chinese of course, is increasingly influential.  

13. We live in uncertain times, and energy is a hot topic in Croatia and Europe. How is China able to assist to help solve this problem?

The Ukraine crisis has now been ongoing for 5 months. No country in the world has been unaffected - food supply, inflation, energy supply, and instability.  There is a lot of uncertainty, and nobody knows when it will end. The first thing we need to do is stop the fighting, to get a ceasefire. The United States, EU and Russia must come together and make it stop. 

And then we need to coordinate a strategy to develop green and renewable energy. Energy is a huge issue, and you can see Germany going back to coal,  for example. China is very strong in green and renewable energy and is ready to partner. This could be a new era of cooperation on green and renewable energy between China and Europe.

But as our President said, we must also not forget the poorer in society, especially in African countries. We need to coordinate, and China is ready to play its part.

14. And finally, a little about your personal reflections on Croatia. Tell us about your experience so far. What has surprised you about Croatia? What is your favourite place, and some thoughts on the food and wine?

I love Croatia, and especially Zagreb. It is a great city, so green and safe, and the food is excellent. And the cafe culture - people seem to have coffee from morning until sunset. 

The architecture is incredible, especially that of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the late 19th-century. Croatia has been at the front line of conflict and cultures over the centuries, and there are many stories in its buildings. I love to walk around the city, zig-zagging while looking at the architecture. It is a country of great culture. 

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Croatian Agriculture Minister, Chinese Ambassador Discuss Pork Exports to China

ZAGREB, 14 Sept, 2021 - Croatian Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković has held an online meeting with Chinese Ambassador Xu Erwen to discuss ways of speeding up the procedure to obtain veterinary certificates and possibilities for pork exports to China, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The agricultural cooperation with China has intensified since 2006, and thanks to the China+17 initiative and the efforts by the Agriculture Ministry, the protocol on veterinary and public health requirements for dairy products intended for export from Croatia to China was signed in 2019, removing the obstacles to the sale of Croatian dairy products on the Chinese market.

Vučković mentioned Croatian requests towards the Chinese competent authority (GACC) regarding veterinary certificates for pork and pork products, fresh and frozen tuna, honey, beef and poultry, notably the export of tuna, pork and pork products from Croatia to China.

The Croatian ministry is in close communication with the GACC and Croatia is a step closer to getting a positive assessment as a country allowed to export pork and pork products to China, the statement said.

In 2020 the GACC was notified that the World Organisation for Animal Health had recognised Croatia as a country officially free of classic swine fever.

Between 2011 and 2020, with Croatia's entry into the European Union, Croatian agricultural and food exports to China increased ninefold, while at the same time imports from China decreased by more than double. In 2020 alone, the value of agricultural and food exports to China increased by 52% compared with 2019, to nearly €7 million.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Smart Bee: Chinese Invest in Croatian Smart Beekeeping Scale Production

July the 8th, 2021 - The Croatian Smart Bee concept, designed by an engineer from Samobor, has attracted the attention of the Chinese who have decided to invest 50,000 euros in it.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the best innovation of the Agro Arca 2021 fair is the unique Croatian Smart Bee Scale - Smart Bee, by Matija Hrzic. This electrical engineer from Samobor is on the verge of the commercialisation of Smart Bee.

27-year-old Hrzic began with Smart Bee's initial development through several phases back in 2016, while the start of production is expected by the end of the year. According to Hrzic, this will mean the production of the first Croatian smart beekeeping scale with advanced technologies integrated, within the framework of cooperation with a Chinese partner, which would be finalised in Croatia. An investment of around 50,000 euros is planned for the start.

Here on the Croatian market, no one produces electronic boards or measuring cells for beekeeping, while China as a mega power in this specialised niche is a logical choice for cooperation, because the price competitiveness of innovative scales can be readily achieved. The goal is to first cover the needs of Croatia and the immediate region, but as the production and sales price is many times lower, and with the fact that before the pandemic there were close to half a million active beekeepers across Europe, he believes that there are great opportunities for growth on the European market.

The mentor on the Smart Bee project, interestingly, is teacher Ivan Vlainic from the Secondary Vocational School in Samobor, a lecturer and mentor of Mate Rimac in the past, who accompanied him to numerous competitions. The most important thing in everything, Vlanic points out, is that talents are recognised as early as possible, as much as possible through competitions for technical schools, and that people who harbour such talents are able enter the world of innovation as early as possible.

As for Hrzic, Smart Bee is his first innovation with which he went to competitions, and the idea arrived to his mind at home, under the influence of his father Hrzic who is a beekeeper and who noticed some shortcomings with the process. Hrzic explained that the main problem in using the equipment that is already out there on the market concerns the price and life of the batteries.

Using the ratiometric ratio used with Smart Bee, according to him, a benefit is achieved because three times lower battery voltage is required for the same measurement accuracy, which means that you don't have to use 3 batteries but instead only one. These are only the first savings, and by using advanced versions of microcontrollers, the energy efficiency of the system is achieved, which, he says, leads to a cheap product with great application in beekeeping. This is especially true of so-called mobile beekeeping which is based on hive transport.

Mobile apiaries are becoming more prevalent in general, as the season from April to September, depending on the temperature, includes different types of bee food sources which is why hives are transported to locations with plenty of food available, from acacia and chestnut forests to lavender and oilseed rape fields.

Why is beekeeping necessary?

The first thing Hrzic mentions in answer to this query are climate changes that result in unstable weather conditions, so there is an explicit need for scales because they allow the beekeeper to know the moment when to feed the bees, not to have the honey from them consumed, or move them to another location.

According to him, bees can eat about 40 kilograms of honey a day per hundred hives in this sensitive period, so the answer is an innovative scale: a beekeeper from his home, via a mobile or web application, even via SMS by mobile phone, gets an insight in the condition of the apiary. That is done not only in terms of nectar and pollen intake, but also in terms of the temperature in the hive, the monitoring of which can prevent bee swarming or death, in addition to monitoring the health of the queen.

The plan for Smart Bee as time goes on is to place a temperature sensor in each hive, which sends data to the central unit in the scale using Bluetooth technology. Smart Bee, concluded Hrzic, also enables the detection of hives overturning, as well as problems caused by wild animals such as hungry bears.

For more, follow Made in Croatia.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Final Segments of Peljesac Bridge Structure Coming Together

June the 12th, 2021 - The final segments of the long awaited Peljesac bridge structure are finally being put into place following their delivery on Tuesday. The Chinese vessel "Development Way" carrying the bridge's final segments experienced issues and was late arriving, but it seems that things are back on track.

As Morski writes, the large Chinese vessel "Development Way" delivered the last parts of the Peljesac bridge structure on Tuesday this week. So far, 1,800 metres of the future bridge which will unite not only Croatian territory but that of the European Union (EU) have been installed, which is 75 percent of the total length of the bridge, and the remaining 24 segments of the steel span structure of the bridge have arrived by ship.

Although the ship's arrival was scheduled for Monday, there was, as stated, a two-day delay for Development Way on its way to the southern Croatian Port of Ploce from China.

As such, the enormous project that the extreme south of Croatia has been dreaming of for years, in which the need to cross into and back out of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Neum), is removed, has taken another significant step closer to its realisation. The total value of the investment in the Peljesac bridge structure stands at a massive 526 million euros.

If work continues at this pace, the much talked about bridge could be completed by the end of the year, with the steel structure hopefully being installed during August.

There is still quite a bit of work to be done yet, including installations, drainage facilities, electrical installations, the bridge's lighting, equipment, fences, windbreaks, the repair of corrosion protection, the installation of waterproofing and of course the final asphalt layer.

The official opening of the Peljesac bridge is still scheduled for some time in March 2022.

For much more, make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 7 June 2021

Is Chinese Ship With Peljesac Bridge Segments Experiencing Malfunction?

June the 7th, 2021 - The works on Croatia's long awaited Peljesac bridge have been progressing well, but is the Chinese vessel carrying the last of the Peljesac bridge segments experiencing technical difficulties? 

As Morski writes, for two days in a row now, the Chinese "Development Way" cargo ship which is carrying the final Peljesac bridge segments has not been moving a great deal at all. The vessel sails under the Panamanian flag and has been strangely floating around the Strait of Otranto, more specifically at the entrance to the Adriatic sea.

The Chinese ship's current position can be seen on the site, and the limited maneuverability of the ship is stated as the reasons for its two days spent floating in the middle of the open sea, which means that it is currently experiencing malfunctions and is out of order.

Development Way was otherwise built back in 1983 and is intended for the transport of heavy loads. Its destination is the port of Ploce in southern Dalmatia, and according to Hrvatske ceste (Croatian roads), it is currently engaged in the transport of the very last 24 of the Peljesac bridge segments, more precisely of its steel span structure.

It's worth noting that the "Development Way" vessel initially started its long journey from China to Croatia back at the end of April, which means that the production of parts for the Peljesac Bridge in Chinese plants has now been completed and that the bridge that will finally connect the two parts of Croatia, removing the Bosnian border crossing from the equation, is finished at long last.

These final Peljesac bridge segments currently floating around in the Strait of Otranto will connect the country's territory, and as such the EU's territory, from one coast to the other, spanning a total length of 2440 metres.

According to the latest information available about the Chinese ship, the ship's entry into the port of Ploce confirmed for Tuesday, June the 8th instead of Monday the 7th.

For more, make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Zagreb in Chinese Lonely Planet: Museums, Art, Parks Presented to China

March 13, 2021 – On the other side of the world, Croatia's capital is well-known as the "city of museums," which is precisely how the author Si Ma Yan presented Zagreb in Chinese Lonely Planet's article.

The Chinese edition of Lonely Planet, one of the most influential world tourist guides, published a guide about Zagreb in its March edition. As reported by Franka Gulin, Croatian National Tourist Board director in China, the guide nicely and vividly brings all the information about Zagreb and is primarily intended for culture, art, and local food lovers.

"Although the realization of tourist trips from distant countries is significantly difficult in these circumstances, publishing a guide about Zagreb maintains visibility and promotion of our capital in China, but also Croatia as a whole," said Croatian National Tourist Board director Kristjan Staničić.

Namely, travelers from China immensely appreciate recognizable Croatia's tourist products, such as culture, nature, and eno-gastronomy.

As Zagreb is known in China as a "city of museums," the guide's author Si Ma Yan emphasizes museums, galleries, murals, facades, and other street art forms on Zagreb's streets. The author also recommends visiting interesting antique shops and buying antique jewelry in numerous retro vintage shops and charming jewelry workshops. When it comes to accommodation, options are proposed for different categories of travelers, from the luxury segment to travelers on a smaller budget. The guide especially emphasizes that Zagreb is ideal for walks in beautiful parks, and Croatia is also famous as a filming destination.


Zagreb in Chinese Lonely Planet / Source: Croatian National Tourist Board

"After Lonely Planet declared Zagreb the Best in Europe in 2017, this is the second major recognition for our city by this world-renowned tourist guide. We are honored that Zagreb was presented to the Chinese market through a mini urban guide. We hope that, despite the demanding times, it will contribute to the additional positioning of our capital in the Chinese market. Guests from China have always been important for Zagreb, and publishing such an urban guide confirms how important the Croatian capital is in China," said the Zagreb Tourist Board director Martina Bienenfeld.

Besides, Franka Gulin, together with the Croatian Ambassador to China Dari Mihelin, paid an official visit to the Chinese province of Chongqing, where they met with representatives of departments and business entities for culture and tourism. Chongqing Municipality is one of China's fastest-growing regions in economy, culture, and tourism, with a population of about 40 million. Their airport in pre-COVID times was well connected to all the leading airports around the world, and the area was in constant growth in outbound travel.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages.

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Chinese Stop Hrvatski Leskovac-Karlovac Railway Project Tender Again

March the 13th, 2021 - The Hrvatski Leskovac-Karlovac railway project tender has been forced to grind to a halt once again as the Chinese throw a spanner in the works in the form of another complaint.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Chinese have once again stopped the tender for the reconstruction/construction of the second track on the Hrvatski Leskovac-Karlovac railway section, worth a total of 2.04 billion kuna. The tender was launched back on September the 4th last year, and the first deadline for submitting bids was November the 3rd, 2020.

However, so far there have been a total of seven appeals against the tender documentation and its changes, which has extended the tender by more than four months, according to a report from Vecernji list.

The last complaint was filed by the Chinese company China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group (CREEG), more specifically its Zagreb branch, about ten days before the deadline for submitting bids was due back on March the 9th. HZ Infrastruktura sent a request to the State Commission for the Control of Public Procurement Procedures (DKOM) to continue the procurement procedure, despite the aforementioned complaint filed by a Chinese company.

HZI stated that CREEG's appeal was untimely and that the Chinese were merely abusing the institute of appeal with the sole aim of extending the deadline for the submission of bids. They also stated that they received money from European Union (EU) funds for the Hrvatski Leskovac-Karlovac railway project with the deadline for the eligibility of all expenditures until December the 31st, 2023.

Therefore, they warned that any further extension of the procedure could cause termination of the grant agreement, which could have an adverse effect on the entire Croatian economy. This would cause damage that would be greater than the value of the purchase itself, and that is one of the reasons, according to the Public Procurement Act, on the basis of which the continuation of the tender can be allowed despite the submitted Chinese complaint/appeal. Despite that, DKOM rejected the request on the grounds that HZI had not been able to actually prove what it claimed.

The Chinese company China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), which is building the Peljesac bridge down in Dalmatia, also stopped this tender with an appeal filed on December the 4th, which DKOM rejected as untimely within just four days. It was then interpreted that the Chinese had filed the complaint to put pressure on the Croatian side over another tender - for a concession on the Zagreb coast in the Port of Rijeka, where they had made the best offer in a consortium with other Chinese companies.

However, the United States and the EU both put pressure on Croatia not to let the Chinese have access to the Port of Rijeka, and at the end of last year the tender was entirely annulled. Therefore, the new Chinese complaint for the Hrvatski Leskovac-Karlovac railway project might easily be interpreted as a kind of revenge for the Rijeka situation, but that is yet to be proven beyond doubt.

For more on business in Croatia, follow our dedicated section.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Croatia on Chinese Hainan Television Attracted 60 Million Viewers

March 5, 2021 – An episode entirely dedicated to Croatia on Chinese Hainan Television attracted about 60 million viewers in its first broadcast.

As reported by Franka Gulin, Croatian National Tourist Board director in China, an episode entirely dedicated to Croatia was broadcast on Chinese Hainan TV, which about 700 million viewers watch.

The episode aired as part of the seventh season of Connections, a popular mosaic TV show that has been airing since 2016. TV presenter Mei Qing hosts cultural experts and ambassadors to the People's Republic of China from countries around the world.

"Broadcasting the show about Croatia, which was watched by about 60 million viewers in the first broadcast, is a great opportunity to promote our country on the Chinese market. The show talked about the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, the Šibenik International Children's Festival, the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, and Zadar, a city-friend with the Chinese tropical paradise Sanya. We also touched on football and pianist Maksim Mrvica, and the hosts surprised us with great pronunciations of Croatian names and general knowledge about Croatia," said Gulin.

Along with the Croatian ambassador to the People's Republic of China, Dario Mihelin, Gulin also participated in filming a show about Croatia.

Hainan TV is a large regional media house owned by the Hainan Broadcasting Group based on China's largest island of Hainan. It broadcasts its program on eight channels and satellite television, while a good part of the programs and live streams are available online.

Considering that the show is broadcast within the entire network of the mentioned television and abroad, as well as within the platforms of Hong Kong International Satellite TV, iQiyi, Tencent, TravelNet, and the Himalayas, the ratings are significantly higher than the official figures. Therefore, it is possible that even more than 60 million people saw the show about Croatia.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages.

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Page 1 of 7