|Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and his wife Peng Liyuan arrive in Brussels, Belgium, March 30, 2014. Xi is on a state visit to Belgium. (Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)|
BRUSSELS, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Brussels Sunday for a state visit to Belgium, the first ever made by a Chinese head of state to the country in 27 years.
In a statement released on his arrival, Xi said he hopes to have an in-depth exchange of views with Belgian leaders and extensive contacts with people from all walks of life, so as to enhance mutual understanding and friendship, elevate bilateral relations and chart the course for future development.
Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan were welcomed by Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo at the airport.
The Chinese president is scheduled to meet Belgian King Philippe and hold talks with the prime minister and Belgian parliamentary leaders.
The two countries are expected to sign cooperation agreements covering economy and trade, science and technology, telecommunication and education.
Belgium is the last leg of Xi's four-nation European trip. Before Belgium, he visited the Netherlands, France and Germany, and attended the third Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.
China-Belgium relations have come a long way in the past 43 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties. Bilateral trade has grown by more than 1,000 times, making Belgium China's sixth largest trading partner in the European Union (EU).
Mutual investment has also increased in recent years. China's direct investment in Belgium rose nearly 10 folds over the past five years, creating more jobs locally.
During his stay in Brussels, Xi will also visit the EU headquarters, becoming the first Chinese head of state to visit the EU headquarters since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1975.
In his statement at the airport, Xi said both China and the EU are at a crucial stage of development, which presents new opportunities for each other.
"I am looking forward to an in-depth discussion with leaders of the three major EU institutions for further deepening the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership for mutual benefit and win-win results, with a view to jointly elevating China-EU relations to new heights," said the president.
Xi will hold talks with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and meet European Parliament President Martin Schulz and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Since the establishment of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, two-way trade has quadrupled, reaching 559.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2013. Every year, 5.5 million mutual visits are made by Chinese and Europeans. The number of Chinese students in the EU and students from EU countries in China has exceeded 270,000.
China and Europe are two markets that promote common development. As the largest developing country, China contributes close to 30 percent of world economic growth. As the largest economy, the EU's GDP has reached 16.7 trillion dollars.