China's chief legislator Wu Bangguo reaffirmed on Saturday the nation's support to the European Union (EU) in maintaining peace and stability, expressing confidence that Bulgaria's future EU entry will present "a new platform for cooperation" for China within the EU.
During his meeting with Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, Wu, who is chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, said that China understands and supports Bulgaria in its efforts to take part in the European integration process. He added that China is willing to see Bulgaria play an increasingly important role in regional and international affairs.
Reaffirming China's support that the EU plays a constructive role in maintaining peace and stability in Europe and the world, Wu said that Bulgaria will be a new friend in the EU for China after its admission.
The same message was conveyed during Wu's meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, also held on Saturday.
Wu said that he is confident that Bulgaria, after becoming a EU member, will remain China's trustworthy friend.
According to a spokesman with the NPC Standing Committee, Parvanov replied by saying that Bulgaria will continue to promote ties with China in its efforts to participate in the European integration process.
Bulgaria, which became a NATO member in March this year, may officially join the EU in 2007.
Wu is scheduled to wind up his trip to Bulgaria and arrive at the Danish capital of Copenhagen on Monday.
The Chinese spokesman cited Wu as hailing Sino-Bulgarian ties, saying that the two countries have neither fundamental conflicts nor pending issues that affect their relationship. Both have showed support for the other's course of development and policies, Wu added.
Parvanov said that Bulgaria will stand firm on the one-China policy, adding they are confident about the future of bilateral relations.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy also told Wu that Bulgaria regards the one-China policy as a political basis for developing Bulgaria-China relations.
During his meeting with the Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Wu looked forward to better economic ties.
Showing optimism, Wu said that the initiative to develop western China and efforts to revitalize the old industrial bases in Northeast China will present more business opportunities for Bulgaria.
His host welcomed more Chinese enterprises to invest in Bulgaria and explore the European market with Bulgarian enterprises.
Wu's visit to Sofia coincided with the Chinese Culture Days, an event including a Chinese cinema week, a photography exhibition, lectures on Chinese literature and philosophy and Chinese dance performances. The event will last until June 13.
Saturday's opening ceremony attracted about 300 Bulgarians, who are fond of a number of aspects of Chinese culture.
"We two countries are completely different in terms of cultural traditions," said Evelina Vatzeva, a university teacher in Sofia. "While the large size of China has explained much of China's culture, the relative small size of Bulgaria also has an influence on its culture."
"Cultural exchanges provide an important bridge for different nations to enhance their contacts and offer an essential basis for their harmonious co-existence," Wu said at the opening ceremony. "The strengthening of exchanges between different cultures conduces not only to their prosperity and development, but also to the dialogues between them and the promotion of the progress of society."
In exchange, the Bulgarian Cultural Days will be held in China in November, coupled with Bulgarian news photo exhibitions in Beijing and Guangzhou in South China.
"Bilateral relations are not just about politics and economy, but also include education and culture," said Bulgarian National Assembly Chairman Ognian Gerdjikov. "Culture is a strong driving force for the person-to-person contacts."
(China Daily May 31, 2004)