On Wednesday (Apr. 5), Chinese president Xi Jinping met in Helsinki with Finnish president Sauli Niinistö and other Finnish political leaders. Xi congratulated his hosts on Finland's 100-year independence celebrations. Controversial topics were avoided, at least publicly. The countries confirmed a new type of partnership agreement and signed several cooperation agreements. Topics discussed included cooperation in Arctic issues and in winter sports. Perhaps the biggest news story of the visit was the Chinese soft diplomacy gesture of promising a pair of giant pandas to Finland. On Thursday (Apr. 6), Xi travelled on to the United States to meet with president Trump.
As is the custom, many investment agreements were signed during the visit. Most of the signings, however, were simply affirmations of previously announced intentions. No large new initiatives were announced. The agreements were related to the construction of a pulp mill in Kemijärvi and cooperation between the Finnish Jokerit ice hockey team and the Beijing Kunlun Red Stars. The Chinese press described Finland as a neutral EU country that supports free trade, IT, environmental protection, as well as its expertise in education. While Finland's economic significance for China is tiny, the wide, positive media coverage of the visit raised awareness about Finland in China.
China accounts for 5 % of Finnish exports and 7 % of Finnish imports. Chinese account for 5 % of tourists arriving in Finland and spend considerably more money than most tourists. The latest Visit Finland survey found that Chinese visitors last year spend an average of €940 during their time in Finland, while the average foreign visitor spent just €320. Chinese accounted for over 13 % of spending by foreign visitors.