A Symposium kicked off Saturday in “Ismail Qemali” University Vlora in southwest Albania to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Albania and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The two-day event, which gathers scholars, historians and diplomats, is titled “Albanian-Chinese relations: tradition, situation and future.”

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Chinese Ambassador to Albania, Zhou Ding, said that in the past decades, China and Albania, looking at each other as a trustworthy friend, saw their relations stand the test of the changes in the international situation and progress under the principles of equal treatment and mutual benefit.

Calling for continued efforts to solidify mutual political trust, expand concrete cooperation and strengthen people-to-people exchanges, Zhou noted, “We will continue to encourage Chinese companies to invest in Albania, expand cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, energy, agriculture and tourism in order to contribute to the socio-economic development of Albania.”

On the topic of “Chinese-Albanian relations in the geopolitics of the Western Balkans,” former Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo urged more foreign direct investments (FDIs) from China, noting that bilateral ties today are developing largely within the framework of the Chinese infrastructure focused Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and the China-CEEC (central and Eastern European Countries) cooperation mechanism.

According to Marsela Musabelliu, an Albanian researcher, the existing bilateral cooperation frameworks have generated strong growth in bilateral trade to make China one of the Balkan state’s top trading partners.

“In 2008 the total trade volume between our two countries was 284 million U.S. dollars, whereas in 2017 it was 650 million U.S. dollars,” Musabelliu said. The total stock of the Chinese FDIs in Albania has doubled since the creation of the mechanism, going from 4.4 million in 2012 to 8.1 million U.S. dollars in 2017, she added.

According to her, Albania’s business and investment environments have developed with new bridges of cooperation with China in place.

Among the Organisers of the Symposium were the Albanian Academy of Sciences, Beijing Foreign Studies University, and “Eqerem Qabej” University in Gjirokastra in southern Albania.