Saturday, 18 July 2020

Croatia Airlines Flies to China for First Time in Company's History

Croatia Airlines has been in the media for all the wrong reasons over the past year or so. Struggling with financial issues and various problems in finding a strategic partner, the domestic carrier continuously posted losses and was a cause for concern for the state. Finally, something a little different for the air company as it flies to China for the very first time.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes on the 17th of July, 2020, although it is not a regular line service, it remains worth noting that the Croatian national airline, Croatia Airlines, took off from Zagreb Airport, heading for the Chinese Tianjin Binhai Airport. This is the first flight in the history of Croatia Airlines to land in China.

As Avioradar.hr learned, the Airbus A320 aircraft took off on July the 17th, 2020, 1 hour and 9 minutes after midnight from Zagreb Airport, carrying with it 122 passengers firstly to Nursultan Nazarbayev Airport in Kazakhstan, where it had a technical stop considering that the distance between Zagreb and Tianjin is too great for this type of aircraft to complete without stopping.

The Croatia Airlines plane landed in Kazakhstan after flying for five hours, from where it continued its journey to China after an hour and 10 minutes spent on the ground (for a crew change and for refueling). The 9A-CTK landed in China at 12 noon local time.

The Croatia Airlines plane's departure from China is scheduled for Saturday, July the 18th, with its descent and landing back in Zagreb scheduled for 14:30 local time.

117 student passengers were transported on the flight to China, while 74 diplomatic passengers will be on the flight's return to Croatia. A total of 10 crew members will perform this honorary flight, and will switch when the aircraft lands once again in Kazakhstan.

For more on Croatia Airlines, follow our travel page.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

86 Tonnes of Medical Supplies Flown from China

ZAGREB, May 10, 2020 - About 86 tonnes of protective medical equipment intended for the Croatian healthcare system and other services fighting the coronavirus epidemic was flown to Zagreb from Shanghai, China, on Sunday morning, the government said.

It was the seventh, and for now last, shipment from China, delivered by an SF Airlines aircraft. Further supplies would be brought by land and sea.

The latest shipment included 80 tonnes of disinfectant and face masks which the Croatian government bought from the Sinopharm company, as well as six tonnes of donations, including ventilators, face masks and visors provided by the Alibaba Foundation and the Jack Ma Foundation.

The shipment also included a donation from the Meheco company to Zagreb's Hospital for Infectious Diseases, a donation from Zhejian Province to Istria County, and a donation to the Civil Protection Service from the CitizenGO initiative and Mr Cai Yu, a businessman who helped with the opening of the franchise of the Zagreb Museum of Illusion in Shanghai.

More news about relations between Croatia and China can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Croatia and China Engage in Mask Diplomacy, but Who Benefits?

May 7, 2020 - TCN is delighted to welcome Courtney Long to the writing team. With a BA in Asian studies and currently studying Mandarin in Zagreb, some thoughts on the relationship between Croatia and China. Welcome, Number 151!

Last month, a majority of European nations agreed to implement strict quarantine measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The decision reflects a worldwide movement intended to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate. As of this writing, there were already 1,436,617 patient cases across Europe and 139,586 deaths, according to recent reports from Worldmeter’s COVID-19 data. In Croatia, there have been 2,088 infected patients as of May 3rd and the death toll is now at 77.

A TCN article published on Monday, April 13th 2020 explained that Croatia has recently obtained 12.5 tonnes of protective equipment from China. This procurement is the result of an agreement made between Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

On its surface, this act of cooperation between countries during a global pandemic seems encouraging. In a crisis, we are much stronger as a united force than we are as divided nations who cast blame on each other. Unfortunately, mutual cooperation can only succeed as long as the international cooperating partners are honest and forthcoming with the information they have.

Sadly, this has not been the case with China. We now know that the government of Xi Jinping threatened both Chinese medical professionals and citizens, insisting that they remain silent about their knowledge of the Corona virus, its origins, and the circumstances surrounding the initial outbreak. This insistence on secrecy and the related citizen detentions and interrogations by the CCP led directly to the situation in which we currently find ourselves – one that is proving to be both socially and economically devastating.

Chinese citizens who defied the authorities and exposed what they knew to anyone who would listen have now disappeared, and news organizations from around the world have enquired about the whereabouts of whistle-blowers, some of the most notable being Dr. Ai Fen and citizen journalists Li Zehua, Chen Qiushi, and Fang Bin. To date, these people’s families and friends are uncertain of their respective fates.

It appears now that Mr. Xi and the CCP are trying to worm their way back into the international community’s good graces by practicing “mask diplomacy” – an organized initiative involving the donation (or in some cases the sale) of Chinese medical supplies to the many nations affected by the Wuhan virus. Recent reports have revealed that the Dutch government has recalled 600,000 facemasks from China for being defective, and other European nations are facing similar problems.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to Europe’s complaints with a tweet, stating that recipients should have double-checked the orders before placing them. This is an arrogant and bald-faced addition of insult to injury, and it begs the question why Europe’s politicians, including Mr. Plenkovic, would choose to accept medical supplies from China under these circumstances.

It appears that not only is accepting – or in worse cases, purchasing – medical supplies from China a risk with very little return on investment, but also that the countries who negotiated for the delivery of Chinese medical supplies are learning the meaning of “buyer beware.” India obtained personal protection equipment (PPE) from China and, like Europe, found that it had been given faulty supplies that failed quality testing. According to a recent news report in India, “the term ‘Made in China’ is used [there] as a synonym for defective products.”

Meanwhile in the UK, government officials are scrambling to reclaim the £16 million they spent purchasing Chinese test kits that are now known to give inaccurate results. It’s puzzling to consider that each of these countries has willingly turned to China for a hand-out, with predictable results.

For Croatia, maintaining amicable relations with the Chinese government may be viewed as a practical strategy for now, especially as China is helping this country to construct the Pelješac Bridge. But our government must ask itself what price is to be imposed on it – and on all Croatians – as a result of its willingness to compromise basic standards of justice and decency.

Ideally, Croatia and China will continue to have a mutually beneficial partnership. However, as WION news reporter Palki Sharma observed, now that social distancing is in effect, perhaps it’s time for the world to practice economic distancing with China. Knowing that Wuhan’s wet markets are one again open for business, one could guess either that the CCP has learned nothing from this calamity or that it simply doesn’t care. With this in mind, now may be the time for other nations, including Croatia, to focus on redeveloping their domestic markets, instead of relying on one country with a monopoly on production.

Croatia has openly (and repeatedly) expressed frustration over the struggle to keep its own citizens in their home country, yet this crisis could present the perfect opportunity to incentivize unity among Croatians by engaging them in creating and distributing their own medical supplies, as well as other products, rather than relying on China as a ubiquitous crutch.

Economies around the world are anticipating a depression, and Croatia’s heavy dependence on revenue from tourism has left many people worried about the devastating consequences the pandemic is likely to have on travel. Unfortunately, Croatia’s pride in its coast has given it a case of tunnel vision, resulting in focused investment in the tourist sector at the expense of other industries. Croatia has put most of its eggs into one basket, and now it’s panicking. However, with every crisis there is an opportunity, and Croatia now has a chance to invest in domestic industries, just as Japan and the United States are intending to do.

For Croatia, two likely outcomes are possible. One is that Croatian lawmakers may actually move to strengthen industries here, providing more job opportunities locally and persuading Croatian citizens to remain and return to their homeland. Alternatively, our politicians can maintain the status quo, keeping trade deals with China and scrambling to promote tourism in time for summer. If they choose the latter, they’ll have to simply hope that their decision works in Croatia’s favour while the rest of us nervously wait for the results to unfold. For now, all we can do is be hopeful and wait.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

New Shipment with 68 Tonnes of Protective Gear Arrives in Croatia

ZAGREB, April 26, 2020 - One more shipment with protective gear arrived from Shanghai at Zagreb Airport on Saturday.

The shipment with protective gear, the fourth such delivery in the last seven days, arrived aboard an SF Airlines cargo plane.

The shipment, consisting of 68 tonnes of disinfectants, gloves, goggles, gowns and protective shoe covers, includes several valuable donations - two mechanic ventilators donated by CIMM Group, protective masks donated by Trip.com Group Limited, the world's biggest online tourist platform which is responsible for numerous Chinese tourist arrivals in Croatia, and donations by the city of Yancheng to the partner city of Čakovec, by Nanchang to the partner city of Split and by Sanya to Dubrovnik.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Another Shipment of Protective Equipment Arrives from Shanghai in Zagreb

ZAGREB, April 21, 2020- A plane with 58 tonnes of medical equipment arrived on Tuesday in Zagreb from Shanghai, as part of a programme to procure protective equipment from China for Croatia's healthcare system during the COVID-19 epidemic.

The largest part of the latest shipment is equipment procured from the Chinese state companies MEHECO and Sinopharm, the Croatian government said in a press release.

The shipment also included a donation from the Split-based Deltron company and its Chinese partner – Gree Electric Appliances Inc. – for the hospital in Split and local health authorities in Split-Dalmatia County.

Some more shipments of medical equipment will arrive in Zagreb in the coming days owing to coordinated activities by the Office of the Croatian Prime Minister and the ministries of economy and health.

On 12 April, a direct flight from Shanghai brought to Zagreb around 60 tonnes of protective equipment for the Croatian health system and other services fighting the coronavirus epidemic, and that was the first shipment of this kind since the outbreak of COVID-19.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Shipment with 60 Tonnes of Protective Gear Arrives from China

ZAGREB, April 12, 2020 - A direct flight from China on Sunday brought to Zagreb around 60 tonnes of protective equipment for the Croatian health system and other services fighting the coronavirus epidemic, the Croatian government said in a statement.

The shipment, consisting of large quantities of protective masks, overalls, goggles, gloves and contactless thermometers, to be used for patient triage and diagnostics, arrived aboard a cargo plane of the Chinese company SF Airlines.

Attending the arrival of the plane were Health Minister Vili Beroš, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's chief-of-staff Zvonimir Frka-Petešić, and Chinese Ambassador Erwen Xu.

The shipment was taken over by members of the Civil Protection Directorate who will distribute the equipment across the country.

So far this is the biggest shipment of protective gear from China since the outbreak of COVID-19. Several similar shipments are expected to arrive from China in the coming weeks.

The deliveries secure continued supplies for the Croatian health system and other services during the epidemic, the government said, noting that in procuring Chinese equipment it cooperated with two reputable state-owned companies - MEHECO and Sinopharm.

Today's shipment also includes a valuable donation of protective gear from the Chinese government, which was announced by Prime Minister Li Keqiang in a phone conversation with Prime Minister Plenković two weeks ago, as well as a donation of the Croatian community in China for the Red Cross Croatia, the government said.

More news about relations between Croatia and China can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Plenković, Chinese Prime Minister Discuss Procurement of Medical Equipment

ZAGREB, March 27, 2020 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has talked with his Chinese counterpart Li Kequiang about the procurement of medical equipment to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Plenković said on Twitter on Friday that he and Li also discussed a Chinese donation of equipment, adding that "#EU2020 and China are also discussing cooperation at the level of the health ministries."

We agreed that the cooperation is good, Plenković wrote.

One of the world's largest producers of medical and protective equipment, China is faced with increased orders from numerous countries affected by the pandemic, which started in China at the end of 2019.

A speculative wave on world markets has caused an increase in the prices of protective masks, gloves and testing kits necessary to prevent infection with the coronavirus.

According to official information, 551 people in Croatia are infected with COVID-19 and three have died.

China has reported more than 80,000 cases of infection and nearly 3,300 deaths. As the virus continues to spread around the globe, Beijing is preparing to declare victory and is already relaxing restrictions on movement introduced to curb the spread of the disease.

The borders of Hubei province, the epicentre of the disease, were opened on Wednesday after a two-month blockade.

More news about relations between Croatia and China can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Shipment of Coronavirus Protective Equipment to Arrive from China

ZAGREB, March 24, 2020 - Croatian Economy Minister Darko Horvat today said that the government was working intensively to address the shortage of protective equipment against coronavirus and that a "large plane" carrying such goods would arrive to Croatia from China during the day.

Other (supply) routes are being planned, primarily airline routes to transport protective equipment not only from Europe, but also from China and India, as all standard suppliers are swarmed with orders from Croatia, Europe and all over the world.

The need for specific materials makes the start of the production of such goods in Croatia harder.

"Several companies are testing how effective some materials they have managed to obtain are against viruses. If they meet the criteria, Varteks and Calzedonia will soon start the production," Horvat said.

The head of the Croatian Public Health Institute, Krunoslav Capak, said on Tuesday that healthy people did not have to wear single-layer canvas masks when entering shops and other public spaces, since those masks did not protect against the coronavirus.

The National Civil Protection Authority has not made a recommendation that healthy people should wear protective masks nor do they think that this is necessary, Capak told a press conference.

Only specialised respirators with filters that prevent the passage of the virus are effective in protecting against the spread of the coronavirus. In Croatia they are currently used by health care professionals.

The National Authority only recommended that infected persons should wear a three-ply surgical mask with a plastic layer that filters out tiny particles.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

HTZ: February Seeing Fewer Tourist Arrivals from China

ZAGREB, February 6, 2020 - Croatia is seeing a noticeable decline in tourist arrivals from China in the first week of February as a result of comprehensive and strict measures by Chinese authorities to contain the coronavirus outbreak, and travel demand is expected to stabilise in the coming period, the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) told Hina.

Some 4,400 Chinese tourists have visited Croatia since the start of the year and generated 7,600 overnight stays, which are respective increases of 49% and 19% compared with the same period in 2019, HTZ director Kristjan Staničić said.

"This growth is as planned and is the result of activities aimed at encouraging further arrivals from China. We have recorded a decline in tourist turnover from that market in February as a result of strict measures taken by the Chinese government and certain travel restrictions for the whole of February. Yet, Chinese tourists who were already in Europe during the emergency have continued their journeys," Staničić said, adding that the HTZ was in close contact with its office in Shanghai.

He expressed hope that the Chinese authorities would succeed in stabilising the situation as soon as possible so that demand from the Far East would recover. He said he did not expect any major consequences because Chinese tourists most often visited Croatia from mid-March onwards.

More news about relationship between Croatia and China can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Croatian Post Suspends Delivery of Small Packages from China

Croatian Post (Hrvatska posta) has stopped shipping small packages from China to Croatia, everything ordered through AliExpress will not be shipped.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Bernard Ivezic writes on the 6th of February, 2020, fortunately, the coronavirus epidemic has not yet hit the health of the population in Croatia, but its onset has already hit the domestic economy.

Fuel might well be getting cheaper, but online purchases from China, primarily via AliExpress, has now been discontinued, and Croatian retailers predict that the economic impact of coronavirus, primarily on technological products, may soon be coming in the form of higher prices. Oil prices have fallen below 50 US dollars per barrel (49.92 US dollars), the lowest level in the past year, due to falling demand in China. The world's largest economy is also the world's largest oil importer.

But to curb the epidemic, the Chinese Government is shutting down factories, slowing down domestic and foreign trade, and introducing quarantines, and as such, the demand for oil on that market is falling. Consequently, prices of gasoline and diesel are also falling in Croatia as well. Other economic effects of the coronavirus epidemic will have a bad effect on business in Croatia. For starters, the coronavirus epidemic has temporarily shut down AliExpress's domestic business. Croatian Post first announced that it had received information from KLM, Lufthansa LH and Turkish Airlines that, to prevent the spread of coronavirus, they had suspended flights to China until further notice, and that this would affect the delivery of packages from there.

At the request of Poslovni Dnevnik, Croatian Post confirmed that the delivery of small packages from China to Croatia has now ceased. Therefore, no small packages you order through AliExpress from China will be able to ship to you at this time.

"The postal items from China to Croatia come exclusively by air, and although the carriers have primarily suspended flights because of the passengers, the shipments cannot reach Croatia," Croatian Post explains.

In numbers, this means that from Saturday to Tuesday, more than 100,000 packages, which should have been delivered to customers in Croatia, remained stuck in warehouses in China. By the end of this week, that figure will climb to about 250,000 packages and will not be able to be reduced until they can fly or the Chinese merchants divert air shipping to container shipping.

"About one million shipments come from China on a monthly basis, and the total number of packages has been growing steadily in recent years, by up to 20 percent annually," they say from Croatian Post. They state that this is a direct consequence of the growth of online commerce. However, just delaying deliveries from AliExpress could have a positive effect in the short term, that is, boost the sales of local online retailers. Not in the long run, however, because China is the world's largest factory.

Sime Essert, CEO of Nabava.net, an online service that compares the prices of more than 200 stores in Croatia, says that a real slowdown in direct imports from China will boost domestic online stores in the short term.

"Anyone who works with suppliers who will not be quarantined could profit in this situation or, for example, those who have a supply of limited goods. It's worth remembering the explosion of graphics card prices when the Bitcoin mining mania started," said Essert.

He added that at the moment, they haven't noticed any significant changes in the prices of technical goods, but that this can't be excluded. Essert stated that factories and stores are closing in China, and despite announcing and when they will reopen, it remains to be seen if that will actually happen. However, he points out that prices could also fall.

"Things like this definitely affect supply, but also demand, so it's possible that prices will drop as well," explained Essert.

On the other hand, the prices of certain technological products are expected to rise globally. Informin Tech's IHS service announced that five factories of LCD and OLED screens, located in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic, have been shut down by the Chinese Government to prevent the spread of the virus. China should produce 55 percent of LCDs in the world by 2020. Informa states that, according to initial estimates in February, only a decline in the production of such displays in China could be between 10 and 20 percent, and this will first affect manufacturers of TVs, laptops and PCs.

Make sure to follow our business page for more.

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