WARSAW, Poland (AP) — China's President Xi Jinping said Monday that he sees an important role for Poland as his country looks to increase commercial ties with Europe.
Xi spoke during a visit to Warsaw that was intended to boost Chinese investment in infrastructure and energy and open the Chinese market to Polish food producers.
Poland has been China's largest partner in central and eastern Europe, with trade worth tens of billions of euro. But Poland is chiefly an importer and is hoping to boost its economy by increasing exports, mainly of farm products and especially beef and apples, banned by major importer Russia.
"I am convinced that Poland can continue to have a very important role in building ties between China and Europe," Xi told a news conference. "There is a very high convergence between China's initiative (to develop European ties) and Poland's development plan."
Xi noted that China's new approach to its own economic development is based on new technologies and environmental projects.
He and Polish President Andrzej Duda signed an agreement to step up bilateral ties. Some 40 deals and memoranda of understanding were signed Monday, mostly related to construction, raw materials, energy, new technologies, finance and science.
"I hope that for China, Poland will become a gateway to Europe," Duda said, noting that Poland's biggest port in Gdansk has potential to handle large volumes of trade.
Duda's adviser, Krzysztof Szczerski, said that Poland wants to have a role in upgrading and creating new land and sea transport links between China and the European Union. Talks were also to include human rights issues in China and global security," he said.
Jacek Bartosik, an expert with the Jagiellonian Club's Analysis Center, said it's important for Poland to establish strong links with fast-growing economies outside of Europe.
"The center of gravity of the world economy is no longer in Europe, but on the Pacific coast," he said.
Xi and Duda were due to attend the arrival of a China Railway Express cargo train in Warsaw, in a symbolic opening of a land connection between China and Europe. They will also attend an economic forum and meet Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and Parliament speakers.
Xi and his wife arrived late Sunday from Serbia and had dinner with Duda and the First Lady. On Tuesday, he'll fly to Uzbekistan. A group of human rights activists protested Sunday in front of the Chinese Embassy.
The last visit to Poland by a Chinese president was in 2004, by Hu Jintao.