Bilateral relations between Iceland and China

Though relations are steadily progressing, there are still some obstacles that need to be overcome for further development There is an obvious law in international relations that when bilateral relations are progressing, reciprocal visits by top leaders are frequent; but when bilateral relations are cool, such exchange visits are rarely seen.

The frequent exchange visits by the leaders of China and European nations since 2009 demonstrate that China-EU relations have cast off the discord of 2008, and are now steadily progressing.

Undoubtedly, Premier Wen Jiabao's official visits to Iceland, Sweden and Poland and his attendance at the opening ceremony of Hannover Messe in Germany on April 20 will inject vitality into the development of China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership.

Wen's European tour is significant for several reasons.

First, Wen's visit to Iceland is the first by a Chinese premier to the country since China and Iceland established diplomatic ties 41 years ago; his visit to Sweden is the first visit by a Chinese premier in 28 years; his visit to Poland is the first by Chinese premier in 25 years and the first visit by a Chinese national leader since the two countries established their strategic partnership at the end of last year. The fact that Wen met German Chancellor Angela Merkel just two months after he received her in Beijing in February shows the importance and maturity of China-German strategic partnership.

Second, Wen's European trip will help to boost confidence that Europe will be able to overcome its debt crisis, which has had an enormous negative effect on the European, and indeed the global, economy. China has made it clear that it is willing to help Europe to weather the storm and is convinced that Europe will be able to overcome the crisis. Certainly, without China's helping hand, the European debt crisis might be even more serious. Although Wen's European tour did not focus on how China will "save" Europe, his visits have promoted bilateral economic and trade relations between China and Iceland, Sweden, Poland and Germany, and will help alleviate the debt crisis in Europe.

Third, the trip is conducive to the development of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. Iceland is the first West European country to recognize China's market economy status, and also the first European country to start free trade negotiations with China. During his visit to Iceland, the two countries signed agreements ranging from furthering Arctic cooperation to cooperation in marine and polar science and technology, as well as collaboration on geothermal energy and geosciences.

China Daily, May 2, 2012

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