|Xi: China stands ready to provide eastern Europe with coronavirus vaccines|
|9th February 2021|
|BEIJING - President Xi Jinping said China stands ready to provide eastern Europe with coronavirus vaccines, part of efforts to reboot relations harmed by the failure of the government in Beijing to deliver on investment promises.|
The comments come amid tensions within the European Union over the bloc’s procurement of shots to combat Covid-19, with member states unable to match the pace of other Western nations in inoculating their citizens. Chinese companies have already provided 1 million vaccine doses to Serbia, an EU aspirant that’s also using Russia’s Sputnik injection.
Addressing leaders and other high-level representatives at an online summit on Tuesday, Xi revealed that China plans to import more than $170 billion of goods from the continent’s former communist east in the next five years, during which time it will also double agricultural imports. Other initiatives include deepening ties on the green economy, e-commerce and health care.
Tuesday’s meeting of the China and Central and Eastern European Countries forum -- more commonly referred to as the CEE, or 17+1 -- comes shortly after Beijing concluded a landmark investment deal with the EU following seven years of negotiation. There’s been a a lack of regular dialogue of late because of the pandemic.
“We maintain mutual respect,” Xi said, according to the official readout from the state news agency Xinhua. “Cooperation doesn’t have political strings attached.”
China is working to rebuild diplomatic ties in Europe as it faces growing criticism from mainly Western countries over issues ranging from its handling of information on Covid-19 to its crackdown on Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang and a controversial national-security law in Hong Kong.