China has been seeking rapprochement with Poland for years, but only in the last months has Warsaw begun to respond to the advances from Beijing. The result was a three-day visit of Wen Jaiabao to Warsaw (25-28 April). Most of the talks so far were of an economic nature, but the Chinese have decided to attempt to establish a military relationship. In mid-May (15-16), PRC Defense Minister Lian Guanglie came to Warsaw; it was the third stage of his journey, he visited the United States and Latvia earlier. This compilation proves that China attached great importance to a partnership with Poland and Latvia.
The highlight of the visit was meeting with the head of the Polish MoD Tomasz Siemoniak, who has been deepening the development of military cooperation between both countries. Liang Guanglie stressed the importance of Poland for China as a strategic partner and expressed hope for closer military partnership, which would help build stability as a regional and global power. After this diplomatic introduction, the Chinese delegation concentrated on facts. The Chinese vary on rapid development of cooperation at all levels, they are interested in the organization of joint exercises and trainings, meetings, officers of high rank, and even cultural events. The Polish side was much more restrained. Minister Siemoniak pointed out that this was the first visit of Chinese Minister of Defense in 57 years. He also expressed hope that the positive effects would extend beyond the military relationship. Poland is very much interested in building friendly relations with the PRC, the military arena, added the Polish minister.
Polish-Chinese cooperation, on the military level has never been very deep. Before anything was able to develop, China got hostile with the Soviet Union. In this conflict, Poland was, of course, on the side of Moscow. In the 80s, Chinese policymakers considered the possibility of introducing reforms similar to those applied by Deng Xiaoping in Poland and other Eastern Bloc countries; these calculations were flawed. After the fall of communism, Poland was too busy with entering into the European structures, and attempts to build partnership with the United States, to deal with relations with Asia. Given the great sympathy and interest on the part of the ruling circles in Beijing and (especially) Hanoi, one must consider this as missing a very good opportunity to build deep and very economically beneficial relationships. A breakthrough was made in December last year with the visit of President Bronislaw Komorowski to China. Finally, the Polish side expressed its interest in a broader economic cooperation .Military cooperation has been established earlier: in 2009, an agreement on cooperation was signed. As a result, Polish universities accept Chinese military as exchange students. Both ministers reported that as the greatest success so far achieved in cooperation in the field of military medicine. Now the question arises as to why China is interested in military cooperation and why with Poland and Latvia.
Both Poland and Latvia are post-communist countries and members of NATO and the EU. Among other
similarities, stormy relations with Russia should be mentioned. It would be too great of an exaggeration to say that China needs Poland and Latvia in its games with Russia, much more realistic is seeking a foothold in the EU and NATO. Despite the efforts of Brussels, Beijing refuses to treat the EU as a whole and has made arrangements separately with individual Member States. Until now, during such resolution, the best deals were made by Germany and France. Especially Paris has for many years been seeking to lift the embargo on the sale of military technology to China, seeing it as a chance for millions of dollars in profits. Similarly Warsaw, the Polish defense industry has for years been known for implementation of effective, simple and cheap solutions at a high technological level, which are most attractive to the PLA. In the case of lifting the arms embargo, it would be easier for China to start production of Polish equipment than those of French or German origin. In addition, joint maneuvers and exercises provide ample opportunity to familiarize with the current technological solutions. Left-wing opposition in Poland, even before the visit of Liang Guanglie, said that the center-right government wants with the help of arms exports to China to reduce the budget deficit.
Another issue is whether the Chinese offer, in addition to potential financial gains, will be attractive to Poland and Latvia. The answer is not so positive for China. The reasons here are, however, inherently more psychological than substantive. In Central Europe, China is seen as a manufacturer of cheap goods, often not the best quality, which are hitting the local industry. The offer of economic cooperation is regarded with
great interest, but for the majority of decision makers and the public’s military cooperation with China is so exotic that it is difficult to treat the offer seriously. Another problem, especially in Poland, is the attitude of the media, which is, whatever their opinion, quite malevolent to China. It is they who have thwarted attempts at „mercantile diplomacy”, undertaken by socialist President Aleksander Kwasniewski (1995-2005). His successor, Lech Kaczynski, during his visit to Asia, skipped Beijing, visiting among others Mongolia and Japan. Polish MoD appears to be the most interested in deepening cooperation with China, the commander of the types of forces have received a self-given „green light” for building good relations with the PLA. Time will show the results.
 A separate issue that is rampant in both countries is the scandal associated with the construction of A2 highway between Warsaw and Lodz by the Chinese consortium COVEC.