The investment of China – one of the world’s fastest growing economies – in Lithuania is currently under LTL20m, alfa.lt wrote on 19 March. But Liu Zengwen, the new Chinese ambassador to Lithuania, is certain that more and more Chinese companies will be interested in the possibilities of investing in our country.
Last year, Lithuania and China commemorated the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations. According to Zengwen, the bilateral relations are being developed successfully. Both countries enjoy high level contacts, bilateral understanding, and trust.
The new Chinese ambassador to Lithuania Zengwen shared his thoughts on the bilateral relations, economic and cultural cooperation, its perspectives, and the Tibet issue in an interview to the newspaper Lietuvos žinios.
“Ambassador, you’ve recently came to work in Lithuania. What’s your impression about our country?”
“I arrived a month and a half ago. During this time, I’ve already had numerous meetings and visited several cities – Kaunas, Elektrėnai, and Zarasai. Since I reside in Vilnius, I often go to the Old Town on weekends. I enjoy it very much. Despite its relatively small size, it has numerous impressive architectural styles and buildings that stand in perfect harmony with one another. Your Old Town is truly worth being in the World Heritage list. I saw that Lithuania was a country with an old history, rich culture, and great natural conditions. The Lithuanians are very kind and hospitable. Another thing that made a big impression was the fact that in Lithuania many women held important posts.”
“Did you know much about Lithuania before coming here?”
“I wouldn’t say so. My son plays basketball, so he knew much more about Lithuania than I did. When I was appointed Chinese ambassador to Lithuania, my son was very happy. I mean, your basketball team is one the strongest in the world. Lithuania has raised many great basketball players, e.g., Arvydas Sabonis, Linas Kleiza, Arvydas Macijauskas, and Darius Songaila. Back in China we were happy to have Jonas Kazlauskas train our basketball team.”
“How would you evaluate the bilateral relations between China and Lithuania?”
“Last year, the two countries commemorated the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Various events were organized on this occasion. Chinese President Hu Jintao and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė exchanged greeting telegrams. They stressed that the bilateral relations were being developed successfully. The countries enjoy high level contacts, bilateral understanding, and trust. The economic cooperation is getting stronger as well. In recent years, the average annual trade turnover growth has been over 40%. We are cooperating equally successfully in the fields of culture, education, sport, etc. Our countries have to foster and strengthen these relations.”
“President Grybauskaitė has invited Chinese leaders to visit Lithuania. Perhaps such a visit is being planned?”
“As I have already mentioned, since the establishment of diplomatic relations the cooperation between our countries has been developed at the highest level. The fact that Chinese and Lithuanian leaders invite each other for a visit is very important. We coordinate such matters via diplomatic channels.”
“Does the Chinese Embassy provide strong support to the Chinese residing in Lithuania? Is the information which went public that supposedly the embassy supports financially the Chinese who want to start a business in our country true?”
“By answering the first question I would like to stress that in order to strengthen bilateral relations an ‘exchange’ of people and investment is needed. That’s why our embassy encourages Chinese companies to come to Lithuania, get to know the market, and find opportunities to invest. Our embassy provides Chinese businessmen with all the necessary information about Lithuania’s economic and social situation, and laws. According to the Department of Migration, Lithuania has 300 permanent Chinese residents. The financial support you mentioned is something completely new to me. I can assure you that such talks are inaccurate.”
“China is one of the world’s fastest growing economies. What’s the secret?”
“In order to have a good understanding of the People’s Republic of China’s history during the last 60 years one has to pay attention to the two main stages. The first stage lasted from 1949 till 1978; the second one began in 1978 and continues to this day. During this stage, the policy of openness and reforms is being implemented. It allowed China to find a realistic development plan. Our country maintains a balance between reforms, development, and stability successfully. Our aim is to make China powerful, and its people – wealthier. The economic wonder was also made possible thanks to the Chinese wisdom, ingenuity, and constant hard work.”
“In recent years, China’s foreign business investment has been increasing rapidly. Does Lithuania qualify as a country of interest?”
“True, in recent years China’s foreign investment has been increasing. But the total amount remains relatively small. For various reasons China’s investment in Europe is low. In 2011, it amounted to USD10.004bn (approximately LTLT26bn), or 34% of the total foreign investment. So far, China’s investment in Lithuania has been very small – about USD7m (more than LTL18m). But in my opinion, this area shows some good perspectives. I’m sure that more and more Chinese companies will be interested in the possibilities to invest in your country.”
“What are the potential areas of Chinese investment in Lithuania?”
“It has to be noted that Chinese investment should be in accord with the European Union’s economic expansion. Lithuania is a Baltic state, thus the possible Chinese investment should be also related to regional expansion plans. Currently, China and Lithuania are discussing the possibilities of cooperation in the fields of agriculture, logistics, telecommunications, and tourism.”
“What could stimulate economic cooperation?”
“Increasing bilateral understanding and trust will provide a firm basis for the pragmatic development of relations. Both countries have to make every effort to ensure that the role of the Intergovernmental Commission on the collaboration in the areas of economy and trade is even more important. It could facilitate common projects that are beneficial to both countries. It is necessary that not only the governments but also companies be interested in cooperation possibilities. The Chinese and the Lithuanian Chamber of Commerce and various associations should provide all the necessary help and stimulate the establishment of new contacts and cooperation between the businesses of the two countries.”
“More and more Lithuanians are interested in the Chinese language and culture. Do the Chinese find something interesting about Lithuania?”
“Even though I’ve arrived in Lithuania recently, I’ve already noticed that the interest in the Chinese language and culture is increasing, especially among younger people. I can assure you that China is also interested in Lithuania. Chinese students in Beijing study the Lithuanian language. The subject was introduced at the Beijing Foreign Studies University two years ago. Also two years ago, the China Radio International website in the Lithuanian language was launched. More and more Chinese are interested not only in the Lithuanian basketball but also in the country’s culture, economy, and everyday life. I’m certain that this process will only get stronger.”