|Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) holds talks with Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo in Brussels, Belgium, March 31, 2014. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)
BRUSSELS, March 31 (Xinhua) -- China and Belgium decided on Monday to upgrade their relations to an all-round partnership of friendship and cooperation.
The decision was made when Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo in the Belgian capital.
Xi noted China and Belgium have witnessed a smooth development of bilateral ties since they formed diplomatic relations 43 years ago.
The two countries respect and trust each other on issues concerning their core interests, which provides a strong political guarantee for carrying out bilateral pragmatic cooperation, Xi said.
China values its relations with Belgium, and stands ready to work with the European country to build their all-round partnership of friendship and cooperation, and accelerate bilateral cooperation in all areas, said the Chinese leader.
To that end, Xi first called on the two sides to maintain a long-term friendship in the political sphere, and view bilateral relations from strategic and long-term perspectives.
Second, they should work together to promote cooperation in economy, science and technology, and people-to-people exchanges; expand mutual investment; push forward cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises; and strengthen collaboration in scientific and technological innovation, biological pharmacy, modern agriculture, maritime and polar areas.
Xi also proposed that China and Belgium increase the number of students they send to each other, and facilitate the exchange of personnel.
China will establish a Chinese culture center in Brussels, he said.
Third, Xi said he expects Belgium to actively push forward the development of China-European Union (EU) ties by giving play to its special status of the "heart of Europe" and its role of a promoter of China-EU cooperation.
For his part, Di Rupo said Belgium highly appreciates China's achievements in its development as well as its "important" role in the international community, adding that his country has strong desire to develop bilateral relations with China.
Xi's visit to Belgium has brought about a bright future for Belgium-China cooperation, Di Rupo said, adding the Belgian side is willing to take the visit as a new starting point for the building of the all-round partnership of friendship and cooperation with China by simultaneously promoting cooperation in economy, science and technology, and people-to-people exchanges.
Belgium will facilitate the investment from Chinese companies, he said, adding his country is also willing to be a good friend of China in the EU and promote the relations between the EU and China.
Belgium wishes to maintain close communication and coordination with the Chinese side on international affairs, and jointly safeguard world peace and stability, said the Belgian leader.
After their meeting, Xi and Di Rupo witnessed the signing of bilateral cooperation documents in such areas as economy, trade, science and technology, telecommunication, education and justice.
The two sides also issued a joint declaration on deepening their all-round partnership of friendship and cooperation.
On Monday evening, Belgian King Philippe offered a state banquet for President Xi at the Royal Palace of Laeken.
At the banquet, Xi said "we have deeply felt the friendship of the Belgian people toward the Chinese people through the kind hospitality of King Philippe and the Belgian side."
The Chinese president said that, during his visit, he has reached important consensus with Belgian King Philippe and Prime Minister Di Rupo on improving bilateral relations.
He called on the two sides to take the opportunities to develop their friendly and cooperative relations for the benefits of the two countries and their peoples, and positively contribute to the development of the China-Europe ties.
King Philippe said Europe and China, both facing challenges in their respective development, should strengthen cooperation and jointly tackle the challenges in the era of globalization.
The king said he believes that Xi's visit to Belgium and Europe will deepen friendship, enhance mutual understanding and boost cooperation.
Belgium is the last leg of Xi's four-nation Europe trip. Before Belgium, he has visited the Netherlands, France and Germany, and attended the third Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.