Chinese President Xi Jinping headed to Finland for a state visit on Tuesday. The trip marks Xi’s first trip to a Northern European country as a head of state, as well as the first one by a Chinese president to Finland in 22 years.

Maritta Laitinen, head of local artist association, said that by learning Chinese painting, she could integrate elements of Chinese culture into her works. Photo by Guan Kejiang from People’s Daily
Maritta Laitinen, head of local artist association, said that by learning Chinese painting, she could integrate elements of Chinese culture into her works. Photo by Guan Kejiang from People’s Daily
Xi’s visit will further propel the future-oriented new-type cooperative partnership between both countries, stated Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in an interview with the People’s Daily at the presidential palace in Helsinki on Monday.

Xi has been to Finland twice before, Niinistö said. He recalled that seven years ago, he, then serving as Parliament Speaker, hosted Xi during the latter’s Finnish trip, and held several meetings with Xi in the following years.

Sanna Lauslahti, chairperson of the Finnish-Chinese Parliamentary Friendship Group, said that thanks to close exchanges in politics, economy, trade and culture in recent years, bilateral relationship has built positive momentum.

Describing the Finland-China ties as amiable, she believed that Xi’s trip will beef up bilateral exchanges and cooperation in all fields.

“The future of Finland-China relations will be bright,” Jyrki Kallio, Chairman of Finland-China Society said, adding that they highly anticipate President Xi’s Finnish trip.

Kallio, also senior research fellow at Finnish Institute of International Affairs, hoped that the upcoming visit will boost China’s investment in Finland and increase the Chinese public’s acquaintance of his country’s attractive natural landscape, so that more of them could travel to Finland.

China and Finland, whose economic advantages can complement to each other, have been pursuing mutual benefits in their cooperation.

So far, China has remained as the largest trading partner of Finland in Asia for consecutive 14 years, while Finland is also China’s third biggest trading partner in Northern Europe. Their two-way trade stood at 6.36 billion dollars in 2016.

Xi’s visit will certainly bolster bilateral economic and trade exchanges, said Päivi Leiwo, chairperson of Finnish Foreign Trade Association. She has paid two visits to China as member of presidential delegations.

She added that an emerging trend in bilateral economic and trade relations is the increasing mergers and acquisitions launched by Chinese companies towards Finnish high-tech firms.

The Angry Birds, a popular mobile game in the US market, is developed by Chinese and Finnish teams together.

Kati Levoranta, CEO of Finland-based Rovio, developer of the game, told the People’s Daily that efficient work of Chinese programming team, coupled with Finland’s brand and understanding of game industry, contributed to the competitive edge of the game.

“We are excited for the business chances to be brought by Xi’s visit,” Levoranta added, believing that it will deepen both governmental and non-governmental cooperation between the two countries.

Rovio is endeavoring to gain a firm foothold in China, now the world’s biggest mobile game market, the CEO said, adding that an enhanced bilateral economic and trade cooperation, therefore, is what the company wants.

Antti Vasara, VTT President and CEO, said that he would introduce to Xi his country’s innovation achievements if having a chance. As technical research center of Finland, VTT has established collaborative relationship with China for 20 years.

Finland can enlighten China with innovation experience and technology on the latter’s way to build itself an innovation-oriented country, Vasara explained, adding that he expects more channels and opportunities from bilateral cooperation in scientific innovation.

In addition to economic cooperation, bilateral cultural exchanges covering arts, tourism and sports also witnessed a flourishing tide in recent years.

An exhibition themed with traditional Chinese landscape painting was on display on Monday in Espoo, a suburb of Helsinki. The works were contributed by 13 local lovers of Chinese painting, including not only painters, but also software engineers and retirees.

Maritta Laitinen, head of local artist association and also a contributor to the exhibition, said that by learning Chinese painting, which is different from the Western one in artistic effect, she could integrate elements of Chinese culture into her works.

The charm of Chinese painting and calligraphy can be traced to the Chinese culture, history and philosophic thinking, said Li Xinsheng, tutor of Laitinen and a traditional Chinese painter and calligraphist based in Helsinki.

Li added that Xi’s state visit to Finland will stimulate local residents’ enthusiasm for China, and therefore push forward bilateral cultural exchanges.

The past two years have witnessed a 40 percent increase in the Chinese tourists traveling to Finland. Their per capita consumption, which amounted to 940 euros, tripled the average number registered by tourists of all countries.

Sanna Kärkkäinen, Managing Director of Visit Rovaniemi, known as hometown of Santa Claus, told the People’s Daily that the number of Chinese travelers they hosted hit record highs in recent years.

What’s more gratifying is that more Chinese companies are now investing in the city, she said, adding that the city is now ready for embracing more Chinese tourists.

Timo Ritakallio, President of the Finnish Olympic Committee, hoped the momentous visit could enhance sporting exchanges between China, the host of 2022 Winter Olympics, and Finland, a strong player of winter sports.

By Liu Zhonghua, Guan Kejiang, Sun Tianren from People’s Daily/NewsGhana.com.gh