On May 16, 2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a briefing for Chinese and foreign media. Song Tao, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Jiang Yaoping,, Vice Minister of Commerce, informed the media about the upcoming formal visit to India, Pakistan, Switzerland and Germany by Premier Li Keqiang, with the background information, main schedules and significance of visit, as well as the economic and trade relations between China and the four countries. They answered the questions from Chinese and foreign journalists at present.
I. Premier Li's Visit to India
Song Tao stressed that India is an important neighbour of China, a big developing country and an emerging market. China-India relations have witnessed a momentum of steady development in recent years. Asia's status in the overall strategy of the world has been further ascended. The mutually-beneficial cooperation between China and India not only enjoys great potentials but also has strategic significance and global impact. Premier Li Keqiang selects India as the first stop for his first overseas visit is a reflection of how much the new Chinese government values China-India relations. The Chinese side hopes that this visit will consolidate the Sino-Indian strategic partnership and strengthen bilateral cooperation in the fields of two-way investment, trade, and infrastructure construction so as to leverage complementary advantages of each other and achieve mutual benefit and win-win results; that the two sides will expand people-to-people exchanges and enhance mutual understanding; that the two sides will strengthen communication and coordination in international and regional affairs and make greater contributions to safeguarding regional and global peace and stability.
Song Tao said that during the visit, Premier Li will hold talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, meet with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and other Indian leaders, and deliver speeches on the Sino-Indian relations. In addition to New Delhi, capital of India, Premier Li will also visit Mumbai, India's commercial capital as well. During the visit, the two sides will sign a series of cooperation agreements.
Jiang Yaoping said that China-India economic and trade cooperation has witnessed remarkable results in recent years. The trade volume between China and India reached 66.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2012. China has become India's second largest trading partner while India is China's largest trading partner in South Asia. It is hopeful that the two countries will be able to meet the target of bringing the bilateral trade volume to 100 billion U.S. dollars by 2015 as scheduled, which was set by the state leaders of the two countries. The two countries enjoy good cooperation in construction projects and India has become an important market of construction projects for China. The two-way investment increased steadily. During the visit of Premier Li Keqiang, the two sides will sign the economic and trade cooperation documents and will hold the first China-India CEO Forum, the dinner meeting of China-India Business Cooperation Summit and other events.
II. Premier Li's Visit to Pakistan
Song Tao said that Pakistan is an important neighbour and an all-weather strategic partner of China. For the 62 years since the establishment of diplomatic relationship between the two countries, Cina-Pakistan relations have withstood the test of time and the changing international situation and have become a model for countries of different social systems to develop good-neighborly friendship and carry out mutually beneficial-cooperation with each other. Selecting Pakistan as one of the destination's of Premier Li's first overseas visit shows that the new Chinese government attaches great importance to developing its relations with Pakistan. It will be of great significance to further consolidating China-Pakistan traditional friendship and deepening the strategic cooperation between the two countries. The visit comes shortly after the general election of Pakistan, which fully reflects the high degree of mutual trust and the special friendship between China and Pakistan.
Song Tao said that during the visit, Premier Li Keqiang will hold talks with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso and meet with the leaders of Pakistan's parliament, political parties and military. He will deliver speeches on China-Pakistan relations, have discussions with friendly communities and engage in extensive contacts with various communities. The two sides will sign a series of cooperation agreements.
Jiang Yaoping said that Pakistan is the first South Asian country that recognized China's market economy status and signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with China. At present, Pakistan is China's second largest trading partner in South Asia, the largest investment destination of China and a major overseas project contracting market for China. The China-Pakistan cooperation in infrastructure, energy, water conservancy, agriculture, mining, telecommunications and other fields continue to move forward and the implementation of the projects in the five-year plan for the development of bilateral economic and trade cooperation is progressing smoothly. During Premier Li's visit to Pakistan, the two sides plan to sign inter-governmental economic and trade agreements.
III. Premier Li's Visit to Switzerland
Song Tao pointed out that Switzerland has strong advantages of a well-developed economy, advanced technologies and strong industry. Since the establishment of diplomatic relationship over 60 years ago, the two countries have carried out frequent high-level exchanges, the level of economic and trade cooperation continues to rise and the exchanges in education, science & technology, tourism, personnel training continue to deepen. China has become Switzerland's largest trading partner in Asia while Switzerland has become China's seventh largest trading partner in Europe and the sixth largest source of foreign investment in China. The bilateral relations are facing new opportunities for further development .
Song Tao said that during the visit, Premier Li Keqiang will hold talks with Mr. Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation, Mr. Didier Burkhalter, Vice President of the Swiss Confederation and Mr. Johann Schneider-Ammann, Member of the Swiss Federal Council. They will have an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and international and regional issues of common concern so as to lift China-Switzerland relations to a new level. The two sides will sign a series of cooperation documents covering a wide range of areas including trade, finance, education, culture and climate change.
Jiang Yaoping said that Switzerland is an important economic and trade partner of China in Europe and is among the first group of European countries that recognized China's market economy status and launched the FTA negotiations with China. In recent years, the cooperation on free trade zone has achieved a breakthrough. After nine rounds of consultations, positive progress has been made with the negotiations and a broad range of consensus has been reached. It is hoped that the two sides would reach a mutually-beneficial, high-quality and win-win agreement. The cooperation on the ecological park provides the two countries with a new platform to carry out cooperation in energy conservation, environmental protection and green economy. The bilateral trade and investment cooperation continues to expand. During Premier Li's visit to Switzerland, the economic and trade agencies of the two countries will further exchange views on trade and economic cooperation.
IV. Premier Li's Visit to Germany
Song Tao said that Germany is a major power in the EU and China's largest economic partner in EU. Bilateral cooperation in various fields is full of vitality. With the rising political mutual trust between the two countries, the China-Germany strategic cooperation is getting increasingly substantial. The leaders of the two countries reached a high degree of consensus on deepening bilateral practical cooperation and comprehensively pushing forward China-Germany strategic partnership under the new situation.
Song Tao said that during the visit to Germany, Premier Li Keqiang will meet with President Joachim Gauck and hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel and have an in-depth exchange of views on China-Germany and China-EU relations and international and regional issues of common concern. The Prime Ministers of the two countries will jointly announce the opening of the Year of Chinese and German Languages. Premier Li will also meet with German political and economic figures. The two sides will sign a series of cooperation agreements covering manufacturing, investment, finance, urbanization, and other fields.
Jiang Yaoping pointed out that Germany is currently China's largest trading partner in Europe and the sixth largest trading partner of China in the world. Germany is also the biggest source of foreign investment and technology for China in the EU and an important destination country for China's investment. According to China's statistics, the China-Germany commodity trade volume amounted to 161.13 billion U.S. dollars in 2012, accounting for 29.5% of the whole trade between China and the EU. Chinese companies are very active in investing in Germany and the non-financial direct investment from China to Germany reached 650 million U.S. dollars in 2012, a year-on-year increase of 26.1%. During his visit to Germany, Premier Li will attend the China-Germany business luncheon co-hosted by the Ministry of Commerce of China and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology of Germany and deliver an important speech. Chinese and German enterprises will sign economic and trade cooperation agreements covering automobiles, machinery, chemicals, ship-building and other areas.