2012 vital year for Chine's economy: upbeat Hu

2012 is a vital year for China as it moves into a new five-year plan, an upbeat Chinese President Hu Jintao said Friday in the first and only public speech of his three-day state visit to Denmark which ends Saturday.

"This year is an important one. We go into a new five-year plan. Chinese economic development paints a positive picture now," Hu told guests at a state dinner hosted by Denmark's Queen Margrethe II.

"We have strengthened the macroeconomic regulation, growth quicker, prices are being stabilised and efficiency is good. We have improved the population's living standards," Hu said.

He added that China's 12th five-year plan and Europe's 2020 strategy had a lot to offer each other and that China's decision to increase domestic demand, increase imports and open up the service sector would expand the horizon for Danish and European exports to China.

"We will speed up changes to the economic growth model and develop new strategic sectors in China. This will attract more European investment in new technology and strengthen European cooperation with China," the Chinese president said.

"China will strengthen copyright protection and improve the investment environment for foreign investment. This will help European capital and industry to achieve growth in China," Hu said.

Praising Denmark as a "unique" player in Europe, Hu said China was particularly interested in Denmark's high expertise in biomedicine, foodstuffs, green economy, energy saving, environmental protection and technological innovation.

The Chinese president said that new cultural centres were to increase understanding "by following the principle of bilateral respect and benefit".

Hu spoke only hours after a long list of major Danish and Chinese companies had signed cooperation agreements which the Danish government has suggested were worth at least DKK 18 billion (three billion dollars) over the next few years.

Among the agreements are an investment pact between Danish-Swedish dairy producer Arla and China's Mengniu Dairy Company, which Arla said will multiply the Scandinavian dairy's DKK 700 million ($119 million) exports to China by five.

Other agreements signed included a strategic partnership between Denmark's largest private equity fund Axcel and its Chinese counterpart Fosun International Ltd -- China's leading investment company.

The world's largest container shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk's independent subsidiary APM Terminals signed an agreement to build a harbour terminal in China and the Carlsberg brewery group is to build a new vast brewery in Yunnan Province, while the Danfoss engineering company and the engineering design consultants COWI are to sign an agreement to provide a district heating system for the Chinese city of Anshan in the northeastern Liaoning Province.

President Hu was Saturday due to hold political talks with Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt before leaving Denmark for Mexico where he is to take part in next week's G-20 meeting.

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