Li Keqiang starts visit to Hungary

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang is greeted by Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics upon his arrival at the airport in Budapest, Hungary, April 30, 2012. (Xinhua/Ding Lin)

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Budapest to begin his official visit to Hungary on Monday.

In his written speech upon his arrival at the airport, Li said that Hungary was one of the first countries to forge diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.

With increasing exchanges of high-level visits, Sino-Hungarian political mutual trust has been promoted steadily while economic and trade cooperation making remarkable progress, he said.

Being a European Union (EU) member state, Hungary has played an important role in deepening the relationship between China and the 27-member bloc, he said.

China attaches great importance to the relations with Hungary and hopes to push for further development of the friendly and cooperative partnership between the two countries, Li noted.

During his stay, the Chinese vice premier said that he will meet with Hungarian leaders on the development of bilateral ties and sign cooperative agreements in the sectors of finance, agriculture, science and technology, infrastructure, and cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises and agricultural technology.

He expressed the belief that his visit will boost mutual understanding and friendship between China and Hungary, and deepen bilateral exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics met with Li at the airport.

Li arrived here after his visit to Russia.

His visit to Hungary is another important diplomatic move for Sino-Hungarian ties following Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Hungary in 2004 and Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to the country last year, according to Chinese Ambassador to Hungary Gao Jian.

In an interview with Xinhua, Gao said bilateral trade between China and Hungary had witnessed substantial progress thanks to joint efforts made by the government and the business circle of both countries.

China is now the largest trading partner of Hungary outside Europe, with bilateral trade amounting to a record of 9.26 billion U.S. dollars in 2011, up 6.2 percent from the previous year, according to Gao.

Chinese investment in Hungary has also reached 2.5 billion U.S. dollars, making Hungary the most important investment destination for China in central and eastern Europe. Hungarian investment in China, in the mean time, also topped 350 million U.S. dollars, he said.

Xinhua