By Henry Srebrnik, [Summerside, PEI] Journal Pioneer
During a visit to Poland in July I was walking in Warsaw's
Lazienki Royal Baths Park, which occupies over 76 hectares of
the city centre.
While I was there, a large Chinese trade delegation arrived for
meetings with Polish officials at the Lazienki Palace, once a
home of Poland's kings. It is situated in the park.
This did not come as a surprise. China views Poland as an
important partner for cooperation in central and eastern Europe
and within the European Union.
It is all part of China's project to recreate the ancient Silk
Road that served as an avenue of trade between China and Europe.
The new Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious rail and maritime
network, will encompass some 60 countries, in a drive by China
to become a bigger player in global trade.
But it cannot be fully implemented without Poland. So perhaps
for the first time in China’s long history, entering Poland lies
in China's strategic interests.
"Spanning thousands of miles and years, the ancient silk routes
embody the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and
inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit," Chinese
President Xi Jinping told the Belt and Road Forum for
International Cooperation, which met May 14-15 in Beijing.
Poland's Amber Road rail project, which will cover countries in
the Baltic region, is a major component of the Chinese plan in
this part of Europe, remarked Xi .
Meeting with Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, who was in
Beijing to attend the Forum, Xi highlighted environmental
protection, finance, high-tech industries, infrastructure and
logistics as areas where China and Poland could step up
"I am counting on further close cooperation in the political
sphere within the framework of comprehensive strategic
partnership and that it results in mutually beneficial,
measurable economic ties," Szydlo said after her face-to-face
meetings with Xi ahead of the summit.
"We want to cooperate with China in the fields of
infrastructure, environment, tourism and cultural exchange," she
added while in Beijing.
"The Belt and Road is perceived as a realization of the
strategic partnership that has been connecting the two countries
since 2011," stated Krzysztof Senger, Vice President of PAIH,
the Polish Agency for Investment and Trade.
During a visit to Warsaw June 19-21, 2016, President Xi reached
agreements with Polish President Andrzej Duda to promote
economic ties within China's Belt and Road and Poland's Amber
Some 40 deals and memoranda of understanding were signed, mostly
related to construction, raw materials, energy, new
technologies, finance and science.
"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.
In his talks with Xi, Duda said that "Poland stands ready to
become a portal to Europe for the world's second largest
Addressing the Polish-Chinese international conference in Opole,
in southwest Poland, on April 25 of this year, Duda reminded the
delegates that the evolving Belt and Road Initiative is "proof
that Poland appreciates the meaning of this project and is very
interested in it."
Concrete examples of common initiatives could already be seen,
such as the Lodz-Chengdu rail cargo connection and partnerships
between various academic and research centers.
Xu Jian, the Chinese ambassador to Poland, asserted that Poland,
as a big and important country, was an important partner for
Poland is a "gate to Europe" as far as the Belt and Road
Initiative is concerned," Xu said, adding between 2013 and 2016,
Chinese-Polish trade volume rose from 14.8 billion U.S. dollars
to 17.6 billion U.S. dollars, with a six per cent average annual
Poland has seen numerous Chinese banks open branches throughout
the country. They promote further Sino-Polish cooperation in
energy, resources, transportation, infrastructure and
manufacturing. They also seek to enlist overseas financial
advisors to help Chinese enterprises expand abroad.
The Bank of China branch in Warsaw, opened in 2012,is fully
integrated into the Polish financial market and provides
comprehensive services to Chinese and Polish entities and
It has been involved in a number of important projects. For
example, it provided 140 million U.S. dollars in refinancing
credit support to Capital Park Group, invested in the
Eurocentrum Office Complex, and participated in a real estate
project with the Polish Blue City Group.
China Everbright International recently acquired Poland’s
largest waste disposal company, Novago, with financial support
from the Polish branch of the Bank of China. Worth about
141million U.S. dollars, this deal is the largest project ever
undertaken in Poland by a Chinese enterprise.
Chinese-Polish economic relations are growing, as the Belt and
Road Initiative takes shape.