China-Finland Ties Show Strong Resilience Even in Hard Times
-- By Ambassador Chen Li
2020/10/13

 

Since the beginning of this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to spread around the world, and both China and Finland, though thousands of miles away, have been affected by it. The two peoples have been empathetic toward each other, and worked together to tackle the global public health crisis, demonstrating just how well bilateral relations can withstand difficulties and become even stronger.

Since the outbreak, the Chinese and Finnish governments have continued to have close exchanges and good communication.

At a critical moment in China' s fight against COVID-19, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö sent a letter to President Xi Jinping, expressing empathy toward the Chinese people and support for China's fight against the virus. When the pandemic spread in Finland, President Xi spoke with President Niinistö over the phone, saying that China is ready to continue exchanging experiences with Finland on pandemic prevention and control and help the Finnish side to tackle the shortage of prevention materials and other difficulties.

China shared its prevention and treatment plans with Finland in a timely manner, and Finland actively participated in the China-Europe video conference on pandemic prevention and control held by China. At the same time, the two countries also fully supported the leading role of the WHO in the fight against COVID-19 and global cooperation on vaccine research and development, as well as called on the international community to step up assistance to countries in need, so as to make their own contribution to international cooperation.

The two countries have also maintained good cooperation at the local and private levels. Shanghai and Nanjing municipal governments donated masks and other medical supplies to their Finland sister and friendly cities. Experience-sharing meetings on pandemic prevention were held between Beijing and Helsinki, and between East China's Zhejiang Province and the Helsinki-Uxima Region of Finland. The Chinese business community donated to Finnish medical institutions, and actively assisted the Finnish side in purchasing urgently needed supplies in the Chinese market. These shared moments not only reflect the friendship between the two peoples, but also bring a heartwarming strength that can dispel the gloom of the pandemic.

BRI brings closer exchanges

In recent years, China-Finland cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative has been developing steadily. China has become the world's fourth largest trading partner of Finland and set a record of being the largest trading partner of Finland in Asia for 17 consecutive years.

Meanwhile, the number of air connectivity channels between the two countries has increased to 11, and two China-Europe freight trains have been launched. The potential and resilience of bilateral cooperation is clear for all to see, despite the challenges of the pandemic. The two countries have maintained transportation links as a result of the China-Europe freight trains between Hefei and Helsinki, which have continued to operate normally, and the regular railway connection now runs every week instead of every second week.

The value of goods per train has also increased from $4 million to more than $6.5 million, achieving growth in volume and value contrary to expectations in the current circumstances, and playing a positive role in protecting the bilateral economic and trade exchanges and the stability of the supply chain.

China drives economic changes

At present, both China and Finland are doing their best to get the pandemic under control and are stepping up efforts to resume work and production, so as to bring the economy and society back on track. In the second quarter of this year, China's economy grew by 3.2 percent against the trend, and as the country continues to open up to the outside world, China will provide opportunities for Finland to recover from the pandemic.

At the same time, Finland's advantages in areas such as the digital economy, green growth and research and innovation are also what China needs to pursue high-quality economic development. Strengthening cooperation is a win-win choice as the two sides meet each other's needs and complement each other's advantages.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Finland. We look forward to the early return of the two peoples to normal lives, continued mutual trust and joint cooperation to promote the sustained, healthy and stable development of China-Finland relations against the backdrop of the challenges and uncertainties in the international environment.

 

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