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Croatian-Chinese business forum held in Zagreb

A Croatian-Chinese business forum was held in Zagreb on Wednesday as part of an official visit to Croatia of the chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Jia Qinglin.

The Chinese business delegation was led by the chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), Wan Jifei.

Presented at the forum were the two countries' economies and the investment climate in Croatia. Also held were individual talks between representatives of Croatian and Chinese companies.

The participants observed a minute of silence, honouring the victims of an earthquake that hit the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan on Monday. The death toll in China's most devastating earthquake in the last 30 years has jumped to more than 14,000.

China has climbed from 10th to fourth place according to its economic power on the global scale, Jia Qinglin said at the forum, calling on Croatian companies to cooperate with China.

China is fourth on the list of Croatia's trade partners, according to imports, and Croatia is well integrated in the southeast of Europe with its five international seaports, good geographical position and modern highways, and it can serve as a gateway for Chinese investments in Central Europe, said the president of the Croatian Chamber of Economy, Nadan Vidosevic.

CCPIT chairman Wan Jifei said Chinese business people valued Croatia's geographical position.

Croatia's imports from China in 2007 amounted to 1.603 billion dollars, while its exports to China were bellow US $20 million.

Later today, Jia Qinglin held talks with Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and Parliament Speaker Luka Bebic.

PM Sanader said the Croatian-Chinese relations were exceptionally good, adding that Croatia supported China's territorial integrity.

Sanader also extended his condolences to Jia Qinglin on the devastating earthquake in the Sichuan province, the government's press office said in a statement.

Sanader also sent an invitation to Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jibao to pay an official visit to Croatia. Sanader visited China in 2005.

Both officials hailed the exceptionally good cooperation on the local level, primarily between Zagreb and Shanghai.