Xi Jinping, President of People's Republic of China and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China

Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Monaco will set an example of friendly relations between countries of different sizes and lead other small-sized nations to cooperate with China, analysts said on Sunday.

Xi attended official welcome ceremony in Monaco on Sunday and held talks with Prince Albert II, head of state of the Principality of Monaco, on strengthening China-Monaco relations. He arrived in the southern French city of Nice at noon on Sunday, before heading to Monaco.

Monaco is the second leg of Xi’s ongoing trip to Europe. The visit is the first by a Chinese President to Monaco since the establishment of diplomatic ties 24 years ago.

Prince Albert II of Monaco and Princess Charlene will welcome Xi on Sunday, the Monaco Embassy in China announced on its website. The two leaders will have a meeting in the presence of Chinese and Monegasque delegations. Together they will address economic and environmental issues.

At the same time, Princess Charlene and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan will attend a short recital by Chinese-Canadian violinist Zhang Zhang.

After lunch, they will watch a dance performance by the folk group “La Palladienne” and students of Lycée Albert Premier of Monaco who study Chinese, with will interpret a short play in Putonghua, the embassy’s website said.

Days before Xi’s arrival, the national flags of the two countries were visible on streets, buildings of government organizations and ports and piers of Monaco. The Monaco side has made thorough arrangements for the reception, traffic and security Xi’s visit, Xinhua reporters in Monaco said.

China and Monaco have set an example of friendly relations between countries of different sizes, Chinese experts noted.

The close cooperation between the two sides will attract the attention of countries in the Balkan region and lead to more cooperation between China and small-sized countries in Europe, Zhao Junjie, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of European Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Prince Albert, who has visited China 10 times, had said in an interview with Xinhua published on Saturday that “China insists on that all countries, big or small, are equal. This has touched me.”

Environmental protection

During his visit, environmental protection will also be a topic in talks between Xi with Prince Albert, Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao said at a press briefing.

Xi’s visit will further deepen the cooperation on environmental protection, especially on ocean resources protection, biodiversity protection and climate change, Ma Jun, a renowned environmentalist and 2014 Water Awardee of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, and also the director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times.

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation (FPA2) has close cooperation with China’s Chinese Foundation for the Protection of the Environment. The two sides worked together on a project investigating cyanobacterial water blooms in Taihu Lake, China’s second-largest freshwater lake, and the protection of wild Amur Tigers, the People’s Daily reported on Tuesday.

A Monegasque worker prepares national flags of China and Monaco at the square of the Prince's Palace of Monaco on Sunday ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the country. Photo: Li Zhiwei
A Monegasque worker prepares national flags of China and Monaco at the square of the Prince’s Palace of Monaco on Sunday ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the country. Photo: Li Zhiwei

The Belt and Road Initiative is a sustainable pathway for green development, which the Monaco government has given much attention to. The FPA2 will set a representative office in Beijing, meaning the two countries could launch more sustainable programs in the future, the report said.

Ma said that China might not have major cooperation projects with Monaco, but the two countries have close communication on environmental protection.

China can learn from Monaco on how it develops tourism without harming the environment and adjust motorcycle races into a more environment-friendly event, Ma said.

China also has a role to play in helping to replace all the country’s hybrid buses with fully-electric models, China Radio International quoted Bernard Fautrier, the deputy director of the FPA2 in a report, as saying on Saturday.

Borrowing the experience of Monaco, a country with the second-smallest national territorial area in the world, in fields that they are good at, such as environmental protection, culture and sports, will facilitate China to construct the Maritime Silk Road and lead China-Europe cooperation, said Zhao.

Contrary to the US, where an anti-globalization sentiment is on the rise, China’s openness would be attractive to other European nations, Zhao noted.

Wireless technology

Data cited by Xinhua showed that trade between the two countries reached $125 million from January to August 2018, with year-on-year growth of more than 876.8 percent.

Besides the trade of traditional goods, mobile communications and digital economy have become a highlight of the bilateral economic relations.

With the help of Chinese company Huawei Technologies, Monaco will become the first country in the world to be fully covered by a nationwide 5G mobile network. In February, the two signed an agreement to accelerate the deployment of a smart city program in the country, which is also in line with the 5G Smart Nation project adopted by Monaco.

The application of 5G in Monaco also proves the strength of the technology of Huawei and promotes China’s efforts in information infrastructure construction, domestic telecom expert Xiang Ligang told the Global Times on Sunday.

While Washington has been lobbying Europe, urging its major allies to bar Huawei from helping build 5G networks, some European nations have not yielded to US pressure by insisting on unified standards and fair competition.

“Huawei has wide support in Europe. I believe they bring competitiveness in cost and features relative to Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia and others,” Will Townsend, senior analyst at US-based Moor Insight & Strategy, told the Global Times in a previous interview.

Chen Qingqing contributed to the story.

(In association with Global Times)