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China and Iceland

I. Political relations

China and Iceland established diplomatic relations on 8th December 1971. In May 1972, China set up its Embassy in Iceland and assigned the first resident ambassador to Iceland. After 1983, the Chinese Ambassador in Denmark was concurrently accredited also to Iceland. In January 1995, Iceland set up its embassy in Beijing and assigned its first resident ambassador to China. By then, the post of Icelandic ambassador to China was held concurrently by an ambassador-at-large or an ambassador in a third country. In December 1995, China resumed the practice of sending resident ambassadors to Iceland.

After the establishment of diplomatic relations, China rendered support to Iceland in its endeavor for the expansion of fishing area while Iceland backed China in restoring its legitimate seat in the UN. The bilateral exchanges increased gradually. The main Icelandic leaders who visited China since 1971 are: Mr. Petur Thorsteinsson, Permanent Secretary of State (1975); Mr. Agustsson, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Althingi (1979); Mr. Olafur Johannesson, Foreign Minister (1982); Mr. Ingvi Ingvarsson, Permanent Secretary of State (1985); Mr. Steingrimur Hermannsson, Prime Minister  (1986); Mr. Jon Baldvin Hannibalsson, Foreign Minister (1994); Mr. David Oddsson, Prime Minister (1994); Mme. Salome Thorkesdottir, President of the Althingi (1995) and Mme. Vigdis Finnbogadottir, President of Iceland (1995). Mme. Finnbogadottir was the first Icelandic President to visit China and during her visit she attended the UN's Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Since 2001, Mr. Halldor Asgrimsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Mme. Siv Fridleifsdottir, Minister of Environment, Mr. Geir H. Haarde, Minister of Finance, Mr. Jon Kristjansson, Minister of Health and Social Security, Mr. Pall Petursson, Minister of Social Affairs, Mr. Sigurdur Thordarson, Auditor-General, Mme. Valgerdur Sverrisdottir, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr. Bjorn Bjarnason, Minister of Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs, successively visited China. In May 2005, HE Mr. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, President of Iceland, paid a state visit to China.

In 1979, the Chinese Vice-Premier Geng Biao visited Iceland as the first Chinese Government leader to visit Iceland. In 1995, Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen and Vice-Premier Li Lanqing visited Iceland. Mr. Tian Jiyun, Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) of China in 1996 and Mr. Huang Ju, Member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1999 paid visits to Iceland. In 2000, Mr. Li Peng, Chairman of the Standing Committee of NPC, Mr. Ding Guangen, Member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee and Minister of Publicity of CCP, State Councilor Wu Yi and Mr. Han Zhubin,  the Prosecutor-General of China visited Iceland successively. In 2001, China and Iceland jointly celebrated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. In 2002, HE Mr. Jiang Zemin, President of China paid an official visit to Iceland and State Councilor Wang Zhongyu also visited Iceland. In 2003, Mr. Luo Gan, Memeber of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of CCP, visited Iceland. In 2004, Mr. HE Wang Zhaoguo, Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC of China, visited Iceland.

II. Trade Relations and Economic Cooperation

Since the 1980s, the trade and economic cooperation between China and Iceland has developed steadily and the trade volume has increased year after year.

According to statistics of Chinese customs, the total volume of trade between the two countries in 2003 was US$68.31 million, an increase of 107.5% compared with 2002. China's export value was US$45.53 million and import value was US$22.78 million. The main exporting products from China to Iceland are coke, garments, textiles, shoes and ships, and the main importing products from Iceland are fish products, mechanical and electronic products. In January 2000, the two countries signed the agreement on China's entry into the World Trade Organization. The Sino-Icelandic Mixed Committee on Economic and Trade Cooperation was established in 1995 and sessions have been convened successively for five times upto 2004.

III. Cooperation in fields of Science, Technology, Culture and Education

China and Iceland have had fruitful exchanges and cooperation in fields of geothermal energy and shipbuilding. Since the 1980s, China has sent up to 60 geothermal technicians to Iceland for training courses. In 1994, the Icelandic Geothermal Energy Consulting Company and Tanggu District in Tianjin reached an agreement on exploiting geothermal energy. From 1998 up to now, China has signed contracts to build 17 ships for Iceland with a total sum of more than US$ 40 million.

China and Iceland signed a cultural agreement in 1994. Over the last years, Iceland has held stamp exhibition and art exhibition in China. Many Icelandic artists visited China. Chinese stamp exhibition was also held in Iceland, and several folk music groups visited Iceland. In 1997, a "China Day" was successfully held in Iceland. President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson inaugurated the opening ceremony.

By the end of 1999 there is one Chinese student studying in Iceland and 3 Icelandic students in China. Between 1979-1993, China sent coaches of gymnastics, volleyball, badminton and table tennis to Iceland all together 30 person-times.

IV. Important Bilateral Agreements and Documents

Trade Agreement (1987)

Agreement on Protection of Investment (1994)

Cultural Agreement (1994)

Agreement on Reciprocal Avoidance of Double Taxation (1996)

Agreement on Air Service (2003)

Memorandum of Understanding on Visa and Related Issues Concerning Tourist Groups from China (ADS) (2004)

Memorandum of Understanding on Strengthening the Economic and Trade Cooperation (2005)


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