At the invitation of President Sauli Niinisto, I am delighted to pay a state visit to Finland in this beautiful spring season of budding plants and blooming flowers.
I have been to Finland twice before. Your scenic and unspoiled lakes and forests, your development philosophy that values diligence and innovation, and your kind and honest people all left me fond memories. Finland lies at the crossroads of Eastern and Western civilizations.Throughout the centuries, the Finns, with their "sisu" spirit, have forged ahead despite many vicissitudes and made remarkable achievements in national independence and prosperity. This country is home to the great composer Jean Sibelius and the well-regarded Linux operating system. It also has one of the highest rankings on the World Happiness Index and the Corruption Perceptions Index.
China and Finland have a close bond. Finland is one of the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China and the first Western country to sign an intergovernmental trade agreement with China. In 1952, Finland invited China to participate in the 15th Summer Olympic Games in Helsinki, marking the first time that the national flag of the People's Republic was raised at the Games. In the early 1970s, Finland is one of the few Western countries that actively supported the restoration of China's lawful seat at the United Nations. Following the devastating earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan Province in 2008, the Finnish Red Cross donated nearly 20 tons of emergency supplies and Finnair provided free shipping for tents donated by various countries. Many Finnish companies have had great success in China, pointing to the win-win nature of our economic, scientific and technological cooperation. For decades, China has maintained close cooperation with Finland on international affairs, and has supported Finland in playing a bigger role in the world and contributing more to global peace and development.
With highly complementary economies, China-Finland cooperation has delivered clear benefits to both sides. China has remained Finland's largest trading partner in Asia for the past 14 years. Two-way investment is growing rapidly. China's 13th Five-Year Plan dovetails with Vision: Finland 2025, promising exciting cooperation in such areas as innovation, entrepreneurship, clean energy, bio-economy and arctic research, to name just a few. Last but not least, Finland is welcome to take an active part in China's land and maritime Silk Road initiative.
Finns. The Helsinki Art Festival with China as the guest of honor and "Moi, Helsinki" cultural event in Beijing have been well received among the local communities. With Finland doing so well in winter sports and China hosting the Winter Olympics in 2022, there is much we can do together in this area.
A new chapter of history is being written by people of the world. The Chinese people wish to join hands with the Finnish people and others to create a better future for mankind. （End）