China’s rapid development has created abundant opportunities for Finland, said Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in an interview with Xinhua before his state visit to China starting Sunday.

With the 2022 Winter Olympics approaching, Finland is willing to share its knowledge of running sports events in winter as well as other areas like sporting equipment, said Niinisto.

The President said he would exchange views with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Regional and International issues of common concern.

Earlier, the two Heads of State agreed on building a more future-oriented new-type cooperative partnership between Finland & China. The two governments have worked out action plans to implement the consensus, Niinisto said.

During the visit, Niinisto is scheduled to attend celebrations of the China-Finland Year of Winter Sports.

Finnish government departments, sports organisations, and related enterprises are busy preparing for the upcoming activities. For example, Business Finland just announced the formation of its Finnish Winter Sports Cluster and is looking for strong Chinese partners.

Niinisto said that among the members of the delegation is the mayor of Lahti, a city in central Finland which has hosted seven Nordic Ski World Championships. Niinisto called ice-hockey and cross-country skiing Finnish specialities, and said Finland wants to “help China as much as possible” in these fields.

Since the 1990s, Niinisto has visited China several times. “Every time I go to China, I find many amazing changes,” he said. “China has developed into one of the major powers of the world, becoming a technological power and helping more and more people (get) out of poverty.”

Niinisto noted the achievements in the economic cooperation between the two countries, saying the cooperation is based on equality.

Improvements in the business environment and the development of free trade zones in China have offered more opportunities for Finnish companies to enter China, he said.

Niinisto said Finnish companies, including the ones joining the visit, should understand how highly competitive China’s massive market is. Small and medium-sized enterprises in Finland have limited resources, but if they can take the lead in a certain market segment, they can also succeed in the Chinese market, he said.

Since the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed by China in 2013, there have been several new railway cargo service lines, direct flights and better sea freight services connecting China and Finland.

The President believed the new connections “give a lot of possibilities on concrete terms” and also create more “possibilities to understand each other.”

Niinisto said that Finland could play a role as dialogue facilitator between China and the European Union (EU). He added that the common challenges facing China and Finland will add new momentum to the relationship.