The Slovak government strengthened economic ties with China by signing a memorandum over the cooperation in the sphere of small and medium-sized businesses during the official visit of the Chinese delegation to Slovakia. The delegation included Chinese Deputy Premier Hui Liangyu, Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Sung Tchao and Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Sheng Chung, the TASR newswire reported on February 15.
“The development of political dialogue ... is a substantial impetus for the development of cooperation between the economies of the two countries,” said Ľubomír Vážny, deputy prime minister for investments, as quoted by TASR.
Vážny added that Slovakia needs to “follow-up on the activities that are already here, particularly in electrical engineering, where Chinese companies have already established themselves”. He also said that a delegation of Economy Ministry employees and Slovak entrepreneurs will visit China in May. In addition, Slovakia will welcome the Chinese delegation in the autumn of 2013.
The Slovak deputy PM also stressed that the two countries intend to improve their trade balance, as Slovakia imports goods and services from China equalling approximately €3.6 billion, whereas its exports equal €1.7 billion.
“That balance is quite high, and we will try to develop it at the economic level by following up on these political meetings,” he said, as quoted by TASR, adding that he would be glad to see China expand into Slovakia to a greater degree.
In terms of agricultural cooperation, China and Slovakia plan to exchange their experiences and R&D capacities in the fields of technology and the food-processing industry, TASR wrote.
During its visit the Chinese delegation also met with Slovak Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák, with whom they discussed the issue of human rights in China.
“The Chinese deputy prime minister [Hui Liangyu] ... emphasised that the Chinese do not try to avoid the discussion on this topic and that they are aware of its importance,” Lajčák told TASR. “In addition, he provided several arguments proving that the country has appropriately acknowledged the problem.”
The Slovak Foreign Affairs Minister also informed the Chinese politician about a letter signed by 33 opposition MPs in which the lawmakers called on Lajčák to raise the question of violations of principal human freedoms in China.
Meanwhile, an eight-member group representing the Slovak Falun Gong Association organised a protest outside the Presidential Palace in response to a planned meeting between Hui and Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič.
“We’d like to point out that Falun Gong followers are being persecuted and intentionally eliminated,” said Marek Tatarko from the Slovak Falun Gong Association, as quoted by TASR.
The protesters pointed to the alleged maltreatment of all repressed communities in China and called on the authorities to put an end to the alleged torture and inhumane treatment of the groups in question. They also conveyed their opinions via an open letter addressed to the president, Prime Minister Robert Fico and the foreign minister, signed, apart from the association, by the civil organisation People in Peril and the M. R. Štefánik Conservative Institute.
Though initially supported by the Chinese Government in the early 1990s, the Chinese Communist Party outlawed the spiritual movement in 1999. This marked the beginning of state-sponsored persecution of Falun Gong adherents, TASR wrote.
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
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