Press Advisories

20. 6. 201623:57

Prime Minister Sobotka attends two summits in China and supports the aviation, healthcare and financial sectors

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka visited the People’s Republic of China from 16 to 20 June 2016. During his visit, he met with top Chinese officials, including Premier Li Keqiang and also attended the Local Leaders Meeting of 16+1 platform representatives and kicked off the summit of health ministers in Su-Chou and supported priority areas of cooperation between both countries. A total of 22 agreements and memoranda were adopted during Prime Minister Sobotka’s visit. The Prime Minister was accompanied on his visit by Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Michaela Marksová, Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek and Minister of Transport Dan Ťok.

At the start of his trip, Prime Minister Sobotka, as the main representative of sixteen Central, Eastern and Southeastern European countries, attended a meeting between officials from those countries and Chinese officials. The Czech Republic was represented by 180 representatives of the Czech government, individual Czech regions and companies. For the Czech Republic, the visit, which combines bilateral negotiations with the 16+1 format, represents another major opportunity to deepen cooperation with China and for further development of our strategic partnership both on the Czech-Chinese level and as part of the strategic cooperation between the EU and China. Active participation in the 16+1 platform is part of the Czech Republic’s involvement in the Chinese One Belt, One Road initiative aimed at linking Asia with Europe.

During the visit, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka also met with three of the four top Chinese officials, Premier Li Keqiang, Vice-Premier for Economics Ma Kai and Chinese State Council Deputy Chairwoman Liou Jen tung.

The main priorities focused on during the trip were both countries’ cooperation in aviation, healthcare and the financial sector. Prime Minister Sobotka held discussions on Thursday, 16 June 2016, about expanding cooperation in the aviation sector. The joint meetings with an official from the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority were also attended by Czech Minister of Transport Dan Ťok and Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek. The Czech Republic is interested in achieving a position as a leading transport and logistics hub for China in Central and Eastern Europe. The gradual opening of thee regular direct air links from China is helping the development of tourism, and the certification of Czech small and medium-sized aircraft is creating very lucrative business opportunities. Together with the administrator of the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority, Feng Zhengling, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka also discussed increasing the number of airlines serving links between the Czech Republic and China, the entry of Chinese manufacturers of small and medium-sized aircraft onto the attractive Czech market and training of air traffic controllers, pilot and air personnel.

Another priority of the Prime Minister’s visit to China has been development of cooperation in the financial sector. This priority is based on the current government’s long-term effort to turn the Czech Republic into a regional centre for Chinese financial institutions. Together with Minister of Industry and Trade Mládek, Prime Minister Sobotka met with the Chairman of the Commission for Bank Regulation in China and met with the Chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the largest bank in the world. During the negotiations with the ICBC, two memoranda were signed on opening a branch of the ICBC in the Czech Republic and on a joint investment fund involving 16+1 countries. Also, on the e-commerce platform of the ICBC, the third largest e-commerce platform in China, a Czech section has been launched offering typical Czech products.

In the province of Zhejian, Prime Minister Sobotka supported regional cooperation and promotion of Czech culture. The province’s focus on technology, including digital technology, also offers huge potential for cooperation of Czech companies in investment, e-commerce, technical education and innovations. Therefore, Prime Minister Sobotka also met with 15 leading businessmen from the province of Zhejiang, with whom he discussed further opportunities for cooperation between Czech and Chinese companies. The province of Zhejiang has prepared a three-year project, during which each year 1,000 tourists from China visit the Czech Republic. In May of this year, a visa centre for the Czech Republic was opened in the province. There are currently eight locations where Chinese tourists can apply for visas to visit the Czech Republic. This year a total of 45,000 visas are expected to be issued to Chinese tourists wishing to visit the Czech Republic, and their number will also be influenced by the boosting of air links between both countries.

At the conclusion of his working trip to China, Prime Minister Sobotka together with Chinese Vice-Premier Liou Jen-tung opened the second meeting so far of health ministers from the 16+1 platform in Su-Chou. Cooperation in the healthcare sector is playing an important role in Czech-Chinese relations, and medical tourism in particular is actively developing in partnership with the spa sector. During the summit, the Association of Hospitals of 16+1 countries and the Association of Public Healthcare Institutions of 16+1 countries were established.

A total of 22 agreements and memoranda were adopted during Prime Minister Sobotka’s visit.

Prime Minister Sobotka visited the People’s Republic of China for the first time last year. At the senior level, he held talks with the Chinese President and the Premier as well as with the mayors of Beijing and Shanghai, and he spoke at the 16+1 summit, kicked off a Czech-Chinese business seminar, discussed deepening of cooperation with representatives of China’s largest banking institutions, gave a speech at Beijing University and together with the Chairman of the Board of Directors of China Eastern Airlines he marked the start of a direct air link between Prague and Shanghai. During Prime Minister Sobotka’s first visit to China, a total of 31 agreements and memoranda were signed, mainly regarding investments, banking and healthcare.