Urumqi expo offers 'platform for cooperation'

Updated: 2011-09-01 07:33

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

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URUMQI - Vice-Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday called on visiting regional leaders to deepen cooperation with China in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Li made the remarks on the eve of the opening of the first China-Eurasia Expo in Urumqi.

The expo was upgraded from the Urumqi Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Fair, which began in 1992 and became the highest-level trade fair in western China.

"The China-Eurasia Expo has established a platform for cooperation between China, including western China and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, and Asian and European countries," Li told Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari when they met in Urumqi.

The Pakistani president has brought his daughter, who is learning Chinese, to have a look at the five-day expo, one of the largest in China.

Zardari told Li his country wants to strengthen "in-depth cooperation with China in political and economic areas as well as on international and regional affairs".

A key conference held by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council decided last May to upgrade the Urumqi fair to the China-Eurasia Expo.

The event will be held annually from Sept 1 to 5.

The Xinjiang regional government has estimated that more than 5,000 foreign guests will visit the expo, four times the amount that visited the Urumqi trade fair last year.

Deals to be agreed at the expo are likely to surpass 226.1 billion yuan ($35.4 billion), a local trade official said on Tuesday.

Li also met Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister Aset Isekeshev, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Chief Executive Donald Tsang, and Macao Special Administrative Region Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On.

Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva and Azerbaijani Vice-Premier Abid Sharifov are scheduled to attend the expo, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu announced on Tuesday.

Zhao Changqing, a researcher on Eastern European and Central Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the massive expansion and upgrading of the Urumqi trade fair reflected Beijing's determination to open up western China and introduce it to the world.

"The China-Eurasia Expo will serve as a window for countries in the region to have a look at western China, which remains unknown to many compared with the more developed eastern region," he said.

And the appearance of foreign leaders at the event also shows that many countries are deeply interested in such cooperation, and that China "will have more friends in the process", he added.