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(last updated: 12.11.2015)


Since Estonia regained its independence, Estonia-China relations have developed at a rapid pace and are very good. The development of relations has taken place thanks to reciprocal initiatives: many visits have taken place between the two nations and the most important bilateral agreements have been concluded.

The Republic of Estonia and the People’s Republic of China established diplomatic relations on 11 September 1991 during the visit of China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Tian Zengpei to Estonia. China opened its embassy in Tallinn in 1992. As of 24 April 2012, China has been represented in Estonia by Ambassador Qu Zhe. In addition to the embassy, there is also a Chinese economics and trade representation and a defence attaché office in Estonia.

The current Estonian Ambassador Toomas Lukk presented his credentials to Chinese President Hu Jintao on 9 October 2012. The previous Estonian ambassador to China was Andres Unga from 2007-2012; Mait Martinson was the very first Estonian ambassador to China from 2002-2007. Prior to that, Estonia was represented in Beijing by a chargé d’affaires ad interim (Andrei Birov from 1997-2001, Malle Kurbel from 2001-2002).

In 2010, an Estonian Consulate General, which also includes a representation of Enterprise Estonia, began working in Shanghai. Estonia is also represented in China by Honorary Consul Liu Chak-Wan in Macau and, as of February 2011, by Honorary Consul Matthew Lam Kin Hong in Hong Kong. The Macau region, with its developed infrastructure and strategic geographic position, and Hong Kong are attractive to the Estonian business community, as well as universities.

Besides promoting economic relations and co-operation on the international level, Estonia is also interested in promoting cultural and educational cooperation with China. Estonia has always supported a "One China Policy" (Estonia considers Taiwan an inseparable part of China's territory). Chinese officials and diplomats have repeatedly expressed respect for Estonia’s political choices and view Estonia’s accession to the EU positively.

In the XIII Riigikogu there is, as previously, an Estonia-China parliamentary group (led by Mailis Reps). The chairman of the NPC China-Estonian Friendship Group, established in the summer of 2008, is Mr. Xiu Fuijm.


To China
January 2015 Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus in Beijing; also opened the new Embassy building
June 2014 Minister of Foreign Trade and Entrepreneurship Anne Sulling in Ningbo
May 2013 Minister of Culture Rein Lang
October 2012 Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts in Beijing
September 2012 Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts in Beijing
January 2011 Riigikogu Speaker Ene Ergma in Beijing, Chengdu, and Hong Kong
October 2010 Foreign Minister Urmas Paet at Estonia Day at the Shanghai EXPO
April-May 2010 Foreign Minister Urmas Paet at the opening of the Shanghai EXPO; also a meeting with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi
August 2008 Prime Minister Andrus Ansip at the Olympic Games; also a meeting with Prime Minister Wen
January 2007 Foreign Minister Urmas Paet
October 2006 Minister of Defence Jürgen Ligi
August 2005 President Arnold Rüütel
October 2004 Minister of Culture Urmas Paet
April 2002 Minister of Culture Signe Kivi
March 2001 President Lennart Meri

The last bilateral meeting between the prime ministers of Estonia and China took place on 25 November 2013 in Bucharest.

To Estonia
January 2015 Vice Minister of Agriculture Niu Dun
July 2014 Delegation of the Communist Party of China's People's Congress Foreign Affairs Commission headed by its chairman Fu Ying
September 2010 Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee of China Li Changchun
November 2009 Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Dejiang
October 2006 Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Jia Qinglin
August 2005 Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing
June 2002 President of the People’s Republic of China Jiang Zemin
September 2000 Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China Li Peng

The last bilateral meeting between the Prime Ministers of Estonia and China took place on 17.12.2014 in Belgrade.

Bilateral Agreements

The following agreements have been concluded between the governments of Estonia and China:

  1. Agreement on Scientific and Technical Co-operation (came into force 20.04.1992)
  2. Intergovernmental Agreement on Transporting Goods to Estonia with State Credit (came into force 12.05.1992)
  3. Agreement on Trade and Economic Co-operation (came into force 14.04.1993)
  4. Agreement on Cultural, Educational and Scientific Co-operation (came into force 03.09.1993)
  5. Agreement on the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (came into force 01.06.1994)
  6. Joint Declaration signed by President of the Republic of Estonia Lennart Meri and President of the People’s Republic of China Jiang Zemin in 1994 (came into force 13.06.1994)
  7. Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income (came into force 08.01.1999); an amendment to the agreement was signed in Tallinn on 09.12.2014
  8. Agreement Relating to Civil Air Transport (came into force 03.01.2000)
  9. Sea Transport Agreement signed by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Transportation Juhan Parts and China's Vice Transportation Minister Xu Zuyuanon on 24.09.2008 (came into force 18.12.2008)
  10. Legal Assistance Agreement between Estonia and the Republic of China (came into force 31.03.2011)
  11. Agreement on Access to Higher Education and the Mutual Recognition of Documents Certifying Higher Education (signed on 27.04.2015)

The joint declaration  signed by President Lennart Meri and President Jiang Zemin in 1994 provides the general framework for the bilateral relations between the two countries.

On the ministerial level, there are a number of memoranda of cooperation and joint actions plans (the last such are the action plan for agriculture ministries for the years 2015-2016, signed in January of 2015, and a memorandum of cooperation in the fields of health and medicine, signed in July of 2015).

Economic Relations

Estonia and China have good and stable economic relations, but the distance and differences in size as well as in regulations and culture between the two countries hinder co-operation somewhat. China’s interest towards Estonia is first and foremost due to Estonia’s favourable geographic position, good transport infrastructure, and strong scientific and technical potential. Estonian entrepreneurs are interested in China for the purchase of consumer goods and appliances at competitive prices, a cheap production basis, a vast market, and offering transit opportunities for Chinese goods. Recently our entrepreneurs have also expressed growing interest in bringing in outside investments.

Bilateral economic relations between Estonia and China are the central focus of the meetings of politicians as well as the Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Co-operation that meets every two years. The main discussion topics have included co-operation in transit, logistics, and industrial production. The marketing of Estonian products to China is also an area that has received extensive discussion. The last joint commission meeting, the ninth one to take place, was held on May 25, 2015 in Beijing.

Now that most of the main economic agreements have been signed, the emphasis is being placed on expanding co-operation at the local level and on the creation of business contacts. Potential areas of co-operation include the manufacture of timber, food products, and other manufactured goods, information technology, education, and tourism. Co-operation in logistics is a developing area that holds potential. China has also shown interest in Estonian biotechnology and oil shale processing.


Estonia’s trade with China in the 21st century has been characterised by a dramatic deficit, with the exception being 2006, when trade between the two countries was almost in balance—Estonian export was carried by the electronics sector.

In 2014, China was in 10th place among Estonia’s trade partners with 1.15% of Estonia’s total exports and 3.54% of total imports.

Trade between Estonia and China 2005-2015 (in millions of euros):









































2014 139,3 486,7 -347,4
2015 (first half) 59,1 229,6 -170,5

Main articles of export in the first half 2015:

  • Measuring and other monitoring devices 21.7% of exports to China
  • Electrical devices and their parts 21.4%
  • Wood and wood products 10.1%

Main articles of import in the first half of 2015:

  • Electrical devices and their parts 37.5% of imports from China
  • Mechanical devices and their parts 23.8%
  • Pillows and other such furnishing accessories 3.5%

Source: Statistics Estonia


As of 31.03.2015, Chinese direct investments in Estonia totalled 12.6 million euros, i.e. 0.08% of all investments. Estonian investments in China totalled 2.7 million euros, which is 0.05% of all Estonian investments abroad.

Co-operation in culture and education

Cultural co-operation between Estonia and China has been successful. The agreement on cultural, educational and scientific co-operation between the two countries entered into force in September 1993, and since 1998 there have been 2-year implementation plans concluded in order to carry out the agreement. The current plan, in effect for the years 2013-2017 was signed during the visit of Minister of Culture Rein Lang. However, Estonia-China cultural exchange is not limited to the relations foreseen by the agreement: Chinese restaurants are gaining popularity in Estonia, and there are also organisations that bring together people interested in Chinese culture and heritage.

Chinese dance troupes and music groups have performed in Estonia. Chinese art exhibitions have also been held in Estonia. Chinese films have featured at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. Working together as partner cities, Tallinn and Helsinki have for many years in a row simultaneously held cultural programmes related to the celebration of the Chinese New Year. In June 2013, the philharmonic orchestra of Hangzhou - a friendship city of Tallinn - gave a concert at the Estonia Theatre. The following August, Estonian Television's Childrens Music Studio participated in a concert tour of China as a part of the World Peace Choir.

In April of 2014, top pianist Yundi Li held a concert in Tallinn; in the framework of Baltic music events in China (the organiser of the Estonian side was Eesti Kontsert), a number of Estonian ensembles and conductors, including the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Arsis Handbell Ensemble, cello quartet C-Jam, pianist Rein Rannap Rein and others performed in the fall of 2014. In the first half of 2015, the popular international production The Grand Chinese New Year Concert was performed in Tallinn and a few other Estonian cities on the occasion of Chinese New Year and the China National Peking Opera Company performed at the ORIENT Festival. In October, the Estonian Dream Big Band was in Beijing and at the Jazz Festival in Shanghai, and Estonian films were shown during the EU Film Festival.

As part of the scientific cooperation between the two countries, the Estonian and Chinese Academies of Science signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Scientific Cooperation in May of 2000. The memorandum was signed by the respective presidents of the Academies, Jüri Engelbrecht and academician Lu Yongxiang. In the fall of 2003, the Gold Prize at the Beijing International Graphics Biennial was awarded to Estonian artist Benjamin Vasserman. In March of 2010, Chinese Film Days took place in Estonia and in an Estonian Film Festival took place in Shanghai in October of the same year. Estonia’s creative industries were introduced in China during the 2010 EXPO in Shanghai.

In 2011, in connection with the 20th anniversary of establishing bilateral relations, many events introducing Chinese culture took place in Estonia, including three concerts by the Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra.

The bilateral movement of students has increased. More and more Estonian university students are continuing their education in Chinese universities and since China is more interested in student exchange now than it was before, opportunities for scholarships have improved. Thanks to these scholarships, each year since 1994 it has been possible for an Estonian student to study Chinese in China. In Estonia, Chinese language and culture can be studied only at Tallinn University. In September of 2010, the Confucius Institute was opened at Tallinn University.

Every year more and more Chinese university students find their way to Estonian universities. Chinese students’ interest in studying in Estonia has recently held steady and of all the students that come to study in Estonia from outside the European Union, China is in third place after Russia and the United States. With the support of the Archimedes Foundation, Estonian universities go to China regularly to introduce opportunities for foreign students.

In the fall of 2010, an Estonian language instructor began working at Beijing Foreign Studies University for the first time in history.

Co-operation among local governments

Communication between local governments in Estonia and China has become more and more active. The city of Tallinn has regular contact with its partner city Hangzhou, exchanging experiences in city planning, transportation, and other relevant sectors; cultural contacts have also formed. The last visit took place in June of 2013, when the Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra visited Tallinn. In addition, a delegation of the city administrators of Beijing visited the Estonian capital in September of 2013. Tartu’s relations with its friendship city Ningbo have intensified thanks to the visit of a delegation from Ningbo to Tartu in 2011 and a reciprocal visit by members of the city government and city council of Tartu to Ningbo in March of 2012. As a result of the city-twins relations between Narva and Xiamen, a delegation from Narva visited China in May 2013 and a delegation from China visited Narva in August of the same year. Many local governments in China and members of the Association of Estonian Cities have expressed interest in establishing and intensifying friendship relations, as a result of which both sides hope to find useful business contacts and promote trade.

In November of 2012, a framework agreement for bilateral relations was established between the Association of Estonian Cities and its cooperation p

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