|Li Keqiang: Visible results of China – CEEC cooperation|
|Author: Matej Balen|
|28th November 2017|
|BUDAPEST – In his opening speech at the China – CEEC Summit in Budapest, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang stated that, over the past five years, the cooperation under the “16 plus 1” initiative matured, which is a result of hard work and cross-regional cooperation between the leaders of all 17 countries.|
In the first five years of the initiative, results are already visible. As China formulated “China-CEEC Mid-term Cooperation Plan” in 2015, and set up more than 20 exchange platforms for all the member countries, the results were launches of more than 200 specific projects, including Budapest-Belgrade fast railway line, China – Europe transcontinental expressway and Three Seas initiative.
Within these five years, Chinese enterprises have increased their cumulative investment in the 16 CEE countries from USD 3 billion to more than 9 billion. Chinese imports of agricultural products from CEEC averaged an annual increase of 13.7%. More than 6,000 trains directly connected China and CEEC, and the number of direct flights increased from 1 to 7, which brought an increase from 200,000 to 900,000 Chinese tourists annually to the CEE countries.
CEE countries have responded well during the European debt crisis, which increased Chinese confidence in the final effects of the initiative. Keys of success lie in the mutual trust and cooperation, mutual benefits, openness, inclusiveness and pragmatic innovation. “16+1” initiative is not a geo-political tool, but an incubator for trans-regional cooperation which promotes balanced development of China-European relations.
Li Keqiang also put forward following proposals for future development of the China-CEEC cooperation:
First, we should expand the economic and trade exchanges by promoting investment, developing trade policies and facilitate positive changes. China is willing to import more high-quality agricultural products from the CEEC and promote balanced trade development.
Second, mutually promote development and exchanges in information technology, support projects that will create better mutual connections and information exchanges, and open more logistic centres.
Third, strengthen innovation and cooperation, with a focus on energy, logistics and agriculture, as well as increasing production capacities. China proposes the implementation of the “16+1 Technology Partnership Program” and welcomes the participation of CEEC enterprises in "Made in China 2025" plan, focused on intelligent manufacturing.
Fourth, increase financial support. China-CEEC Inter-Bank Association has just been established, while the second phase of China-CEEC Investment Cooperation Fund has been set up and will mainly be projects in CEE countries.
Fifth, deeper cultural exchange between our countries. It is necessary to further strengthen tourism cooperation and simplify visa procedures. Explore cooperation in the fields of medicine, sports, women and children protection, education and media exchange. For that reason, 2018 was proposed as a “16+1” cooperation year.