Bulgaria's President Rumen Radev (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) in Beijing. / AFP / NICOLAS ASFOURI

During an official visit to China, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese Minister Li Keqiang, Chairman of the standing committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Li Zhanshu as well as Chinese Representatives of the business, tourism, and academic sector. The talks aimed to discuss strategic opportunities that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is offering Bulgaria.

Despite the BRI being announced in 2013 by China, Bulgaria only signed the Memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the BRI in 2015, with Radev viewing the BRI as a good opportunity to enhance the connectivity between Europe and Asia in hopes to attract investments to the economy.

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Video by: Aaliyah Fortuin, Belt and Road Initiative, BRI+

The five-day visit, saw Bulgarian President Rumen Radev having official talks at the 13th World Economic Forum “Summer Davos” in the town of Dalian from the 1 to 2 July 2019. 

Radev and Keqiang agreed that Bulgaria and China should raise the bilateral political relations to a new level. Xi further reiterated China’s support in the European integration process and the EU’s unity and growth, saying that China's support on the matter is not an expedient measure. 

Xi stated that he hopes both countries take the strategic partnership as a new starting point and instead work together to cope with the test of international changes, emphasizing that China and Bulgaria should be respecting and trusting each other while simultaneously strengthening government legislative bodies and political parties. 

During the core visit, Bulgarian President Radev expressed that he’s very happy to visit China on the occasion of China's 70th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties. Radev stated with confidence that Bulgaria is ready to be part of China’s BRI by allowing the full play to the advantages of location, as well as trying to become a gateway and hub connecting Europe and Asia. 

Radev congratulated President Xi and the people of China on this historic anniversary, further stating that what China has achieved in the economy, society, technology and poverty alleviation is remarkable. Through their policies of reform and opening-up to the world have not just made China the world's second-largest economy, but has also made China a leading global actor and technological power, says Radev

Radev further expressed his gratitude towards China by stating that it is very important that China continues to develop on the path of reform and opening-up. According to Radev, China’s growth and development have granted Bulgaria with opportunities for trade and investments and welcomes an even stronger presence of Chinese business, investments and technologies in the Bulgarian economy.

Despite its limited scope, China’s presence in Bulgaria is on the rise. Judging from the major political interest in Bulgaria towards cooperation with China and it is clear that economic relations will continue to intensify. So far the traditional friendship between Bulgaria and China has continued and will continue to grow. The two sides have maintained close cooperation at all levels and achieving results in areas of trade, agriculture and deepening people to people exchanges.