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‘16+1 cooperation’ boosts China-Europe ties

Updated: Nov 5,2016 10:25 AM     Xinhua

BRUSSELS — The cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, dubbed the “16+1 cooperation”, has maintained sound momentum of growth over the past four years, and has become a new, important engine for China-Europe ties, a senior Chinese diplomat has said.

Ambassador Yang Yanyi, head of the Chinese Mission to the European Union (EU), made the remarks during an exclusive interview with Xinhua, ahead of the fifth Meeting of Heads of Government of China and CEE Countries that is set for Nov. 5 in Riga, the capital of Latvia.

She said the “16+1 cooperation”, a platform jointly created in April 2012 by China and CEE countries to deepen traditional ties and widen practical cooperation, is an important, integral part of the China-EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and it complements the partnership.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, and the CEE countries, many of them emerging markets seeking foreign investment to upgrade local infrastructure, are highly complementary.

“The Chinese side is willing to work with the European partners to seek synergy between their development strategies, and turn each other’s demands into ‘visible, tangible’ cooperation projects, with an aim to complement each other’s endeavors and achieve common development,” the Chinese diplomat said.

The win-win cooperation between China and the 16 CEE countries over the past four years has always been conducted through consultation to meet the interests of all, Yang said.

She said China fully respected the 16 CEE countries’ willingness to cooperate, noting that most of the existing China-CEE cooperation projects were actually first proposed by the CEE countries.

The “16+1 cooperation” has so far achieved early harvest in implementing the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative in Europe and linking the initiative with the development strategies of the CEE countries, according to the diplomat.

Citing examples, she mentioned that China and CEE countries such as the Czech Republic had signed an intergovernmental memorandum of understanding on jointly promoting the Belt and Road Initiative.

China’s increased imports of CEE agricultural products not only provide more consumption choices for Chinese residents but also help CEE countries’ economic development, Yang said.

China’s active involvement in CEE countries’ local infrastructure projects, such as the Hungary-Serbia railway, not only helps Chinese enterprises and equipment “go global” but also contributes to the upgrading of CEE countries’ infrastructure and to the improving of European transport connectivity, she added.

The “16+1 cooperation” mechanism is now increasingly mature, advancing China-CEE cooperation in various areas and laying a solid foundation for further cooperation, Yang said, noting that the Medium-Term Agenda for Cooperation between China and CEE Countries, adopted during last year’s China-CEE Summit in Suzhou, has set the road map for the future cooperation between both sides.

Noting that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of China-Latvia diplomatic ties, Yang said China considers Latvia an important partner in the Baltics and values its ties with Latvia.

Moreover, she hoped for a fruitful fifth Meeting of Heads of Government of China and CEE Countries.