Cao Feng had to be careful when choosing presents for his friends while on vacation in Finland at the start of the year.[Special coverage]
“While trying to find something unique I came across many items made in China, probably in Yiwu, I guess,” the 30-year-old Beijing law professional recalled.
Cao's guess was right.
Yiwu City in east China is the world's largest small commodity market and transfer hub, and is reported to produce about 60 percent of all Christmas-related products in the world.
The Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe cargo line, a project under the Belt and Road Initiative, is making bilateral trade easier as products can now be transported through Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to Europe.
Actually, Jinhua City, which administers Yiwu, established friendly relations with Kouvola of Finland in 2004. Kouvola is home to northern Europe's first Chinese commodity trade center.
Finland was one of the first Western nations to establish diplomatic ties with China and the first Western nation to sign an inter-government trade agreement with China. China has been Finland's largest trade partner in Asia for 14 years.
By the end of 2016, China had invested about 217 million U.S. dollars in Finland, while Finland had 541 projects in China, which involved actual investment of 1.36 billion U.S. dollars.
“I have witnessed two trends during my term in China, one is that Chinese investment in Finland is growing and another is the rapid growth of Chinese tourists visiting Finland,” said Finland's ambassador to China Marja Rislakki.
Kaidi, a Chinese renewable energy investment company, last year announced it would invest one billion euros in a cutting-edge biodiesel refinery in Finland, while Chinese Internet giant Tencent and its partners decided to buy a majority stake in Finland game publisher Supercell.
The number of Chinese tourists to Finland reached a record high in 2016, and now Finland is working with Alibaba to promote tourism, according to Rislakki.
Rislakki pointed out that China and Finland have much potential to cooperate over digitalization, green technology, health and education.
China commits itself to green development by improving energy efficiency and reducing pollution while Finland, one of the world's greenest countries, offers green solution expertise, she added.
Meanwhile, the two countries are working on projects under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Sino-Finland ties will see fresh momentum from Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Finland from April 4 to 6, the first visit by a top Chinese leader in 22 years.
China and Finland agreed Wednesday to establish and promote a future-oriented new-type cooperative partnership, with both sides pledging to enhance political mutual trust and deepen pragmatic cooperation.
On the economic front, the two sides pledged to explore how their economic development plans complement each other, discuss Belt and Road Initiative cooperation and jointly promote the interconnectivity of Eurasia.
Bilateral investment should be boosted and bilateral trade should grow in a more balanced way, the two countries' leaders said during their talks.
Cooperation will be deepened in a wide range of areas, including circular economy, efficient resource utilization, sustainable development, environmental protection, new-type urbanization and green, smart cities, agriculture, forestry, transport, information and communication technology, and innovation.
Sino-Finland ties are better now than ever before, and, as both countries are undergoing critical economic transformation, they are seeking to expand cooperation, said Chen Li, Chinese ambassador to Finland.