Poland 'of particular interest' to China as it is experiencing similar challenges
President Hu Jintao arrived in Warsaw yesterday for a two-day visit - part of his four-nation tour that analysts said was part of Beijing's continuing push to forge closer ties with Europe.
Mr Hu is the third senior state leader to visit Europe in two months. In addition to Poland, he will visit Hungary, Romania and Uzbekistan.
A highlight of Mr Hu's visit will be a summit with Central Asian leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent next week.
Last month, Premier Wen Jiabao made a whirlwind visit to Germany, Belgium, Italy, Britain and Ireland. He was then followed by National People's Congress chairman Wu Bangguo , who concluded a tour of Russia, Bulgaria, Denmark and Norway last week.
Like the other two leaders, the president is being accompanied by a high-powered entourage. His group includes State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan , Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Commerce Minister Bo Xilai .
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in Beijing yesterday that the Tashkent summit would be an important opportunity for China to foster closer links with its western neighbours on 'security and economic' co-operation.
Wang Yizhou , deputy director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Poland was of particular interest to China because the nation was the largest former Soviet bloc member to become part of both the European Union and Nato. Poland was also going through similar economic and social changes as the mainland.
'Poland represents the overall trend of Eastern Europe, so Chinese leaders want to strengthen their understanding and relations with the nation,' Professor Wang said.
Another key aspect of Mr Hu's tour was that it comes during the three-day Group of Eight economic summit being held in Savannah, Georgia, with United States President George W. Bush hosting the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and England.
Mr Hu attended last year's event in Evian, France, as an 'informal participant' at the invitation of French President Jacques Chirac, marking the first time China was represented at the event. Analysts said Washington had invited Mr Hu to this year's summit. But the mainland had no interest in attending because the summit agenda would be focused on the Middle East, instead of global economic issues, Professor Wang said.
'It is not China's position to discuss the pushing of western values and the democratic transformation of the Middle East,' he said.