Presidents Xi and Zeman Sign Strategic Accord—Czech Republic Seen as ‘Gateway’ for One Belt, One Road into Europe
March 29, 2016 (EIRNS)—Today Chinese President Xi Jinping and Czech President Milos Zeman signed a strategic accord for economic cooperation, oversaw the signing of many specific China-Czech Republic deals, and gave presentations at the ceremony, stressing the role of the Czech Republic as the "gateway" for the One Belt, One Road into the CEEC (Central and Eastern Europe Countries), and beyond to all-Europe. The events marked Day 2 of a three-day visit by President Xi, who was received in Prague with full military honors, including a 21-gun salute.
The economic agreements include aviation, agriculture, health care, and other areas. Day 3 of the Xi state visit will feature a business forum. President Zeman, in his remarks, said that he wanted his nation of 10.5 million people, to be a "safe haven" for Chinese investment in the European Union. Many specifics have been announced. Czech car manufacturer Skoda Auto (a unit of Germany’s VW) will invest $2.5 billion in China over the next five years. Chinese investors are expected to put $3.95 billion into the Czech Republic in 2016 alone.
Zeman opened his speech in an affable, vivid way, saying that he had no "golden chariot," nor a "White House" to offer his guest, President Xi. However, Zeman went on, Prague has been known for centuries as a "Golden City." And the Prague Cathedral is 400 years older than the White House!
President Xi recounted that he and Zeman have met five times over two years, but this is President Xi’s first state visit to the Czech Republic or any of the 16 Central and Eastern European Countries. He spoke of their intent to "promote mutual development"; and he identified specific areas, including nuclear energy, and "Silk Road" infrastructure.
President Zeman was the only European head of state to attend the military parade in Beijing last September, commemorating Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II. Zeman hosted Xi on Monday at his official residence, where the two leaders planted a ginkgo tree.