The Slovenia Times

Foreign minister talks politics and trade in China

Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon (left) meets her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing. Photo: Xinhua/STA

Accompanied by a sizeable business delegation, Slovenian Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon is visiting China on a four-day official trip aimed at boosting political dialogue and trade. With both countries currently sitting in the UN Security Council, global conflicts and ways to resolve them were high on the agenda.

Summing up her talks with her counterpart Wang Yi and Chinese Vice President Han Zheng, Fajon said Slovenia needs and wants to talk with China in a constructive manner.

Ensuring peace and security and protecting multilateralism, the UN Charter and international law is a shared responsibility, she said. Political solutions must be sought in that context.

"It's essential that we talk and work together to find answers to a range of challenges, from the wars in Ukraine and Gaza to climate change," said Fajon.

Slovenia and China "have a history of friendly relations, which is a good basis for constructive cooperation on the Security Council".

War in Gaza, Ukraine, tensions in Taiwan Strait

Fajon and Wang agreed that peace needs to be reached in Gaza, civilians protected and the statehood of Palestine recognised.

"However, the most we can do now is that the international community applies pressure on all sides to prevent the conflict from spilling over," Fajon said, adding that the US must use its influence in Israel and prevent new provocations of Iran.

Fajon said she conveyed the message to her Chinese counterpart that the war in Ukraine is about the security of Europe, which is concerned about the connection between Beijing and Moscow.

She herself would want both China and the broader international community to participate in a peace formula that would lead to an end to the war.

China has maintained that it wants a ceasefire in Ukraine as soon as possible, followed by a peace conference which would also involve Russia.

Fajon also discussed with Wang the tensions in the Taiwan Strait, reiterating Slovenia's commitment to the One China policy, while expressing concern about the threats with weapons in the area. She called on all parties to refrain from provocations.

She noted the importance of cooperation between Europe and China despite the differences, including in the views on respect for human rights.

Trade ties

Fajon also discussed economic cooperation in Beijing, with both sides agreeing that Slovenia's deficit in trade with China should be reduced. A task force will be established to deal with the issue.

Slovenia exported €259 million worth of goods to China in 2023, with imports totalling €7.4 billion. This makes China Slovenia's 4th most important trading partner, up from 13th five years ago.

Fajon is being accompanied in China with a delegation featuring representatives of more than 50 Slovenian companies, who also participated in her meeting with Deputy China International Trade Representative Ling Ji.

Fajon expressed concern about China looking for alternative ports in Northern Europe, which negatively affects the transshipment in the Slovenian port of Koper.

The minister also underscored that the economic cooperation between China and EU member states should be based on fair rules.

The Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) is happy with the visit. Executive director Marjana Majerič said it was good to hear from the Chinese vice-president that Slovenian companies are welcome in China.

The Slovenian delegation is also meeting Chinese companies in Beijing and Shanghai, and attending a business forum, while the business part of the delegation will visit Shenzhen at the end of the week to get acquainted with China's tech giants - BYD and Huawei.

Cultural diplomacy

The visit is also focusing on cultural diplomacy. Fajon has opened an exhibition in Beijing on Ferdinand von Hallerstein, a Slovenian missionary, mathematician and astronomer who headed a committee for astronomical research at the Chinese court in the 18th century.

"The important ties Hallerstein forged while living and working in China are a symbolic reminder and compelling proof of how two peoples - even if geographically and culturally distant - can find a common language and work together, even in the modern era," Fajon said at the launch.

An exhibition presenting the work of architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957) in Ljubljana is being launched in Shanghai.

Before China, Fajon visited Japan, where cooperation in advanced technologies topped the agenda.


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