AIIS, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences discuss joint cooperation projects

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 6, 2018 16:31

AIIS, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences discuss joint cooperation projects

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  • “AIIS has encouraged developing relations with China. There is heritage about it although in a different context and the Albanian government and the state institutions have to use that heritage to encourage relations between the two countries,” says Albert Rakipi, the head of the Albanian Institute for International Studies

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TIRANA, June 6 – The Albanian Institute for International Studies and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences are planning to undertake joint cooperation projects that could boost the understanding of China in Albania as the world’s second largest economy is set to become a key regional player with its Belt and Road and 16+1 initiatives.

The cooperation projects were discussed this week in Tirana as a delegation of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, China’s second largest institution engaged in social studies, visited the Albanian Institute for International Studies, AIIS, one of the country’s leading think tanks.

“AIIS has encouraged developing relations with China. There is heritage about it although in a different context and the Albanian government and the state institutions have to use that heritage to encourage relations between the two countries,” said Albert Rakipi, the head of the Albanian Institute for International Studies.

Albania-Chinese relations date back to the late 1940s when Albania was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China and the tiny Balkan country helped the Asian superpower regain its seat at the UN as the PRC in the early 1970s.

Wang Zhan, a former President of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and the Chairman of Shanghai Federation of Social Science Associations, said Albania is one of the few regional Western Balkan countries that rings a bell in China due to the close ties under communism.

Foe about two decades, China and Albania were key allies and China provided key assistance in building Albania’s energy and oil infrastructure before the two countries broke up in the late 1970s on ideological grounds.

Albanian economist Selami Xhepa described China’s Belt and Road Initiative as an opportunity that could transform Albania’s trade with the Balkan region and Far East following planned infrastructure investment and urged the Chinese to invest either in Durres Port, Albania’s largest port and a hub to Western Balkan countries or try Vlora Port, a natural deep-water port south of Albania.

Since mid-2016, the majority stake in Greece’s largest port, Piraeus has been acquired by Chinese state-owned company as part China’s westward trade and investment expansion.

The proposed joint cooperation projects between the AIIS and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences include conferences and studies as well as media coverage on the better understanding of the Belt and Road initiative, a plan to wrap its own infrastructure and influence westward by land and sea and the “16+1″ framework expanding cooperation with 11 EU member states and five Balkan countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Other possible cooperation projects include translations of Chinese books into Albanian and exchange visits to enhance present-day understanding between the two countries.

A top think tank conducting research for the Chinese government among others, the Shanghai Academy for Social Sciences has been focusing on international relations and the Belt and Road initiative for the past four to five years.

During its Albania visit, the Chinese delegation also visited Durres Port and had talks with Albania’s infrastructure ministry officials.

Investment and trade ties between Albania and China has significantly strengthened in the past few years.

Chinese companies acquired in 2016 two of Albania’s most important assets, the country’s sole international airport and the largest oil company, turning China, the world’s second largest economy, into one of top investors in a single year.

Albania has also lifted visas for Chinese tourists this year under a visa waiver program that is expected to have a major impact on the attraction of one of the world’s fastest growing source of tourists.

An entire generation of Chinese people who grew up with Albanian movies for about two decades until the late 1970s when the two countries were key allies and have now retired are the most likely segment to visit Albania, considering their nostalgia for Albania.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 6, 2018 16:31