BELGRADE — A meeting between the heads of the governments of China and 16 central and eastern European (CEE) countries, or the “16+1” summit, will further strengthen ties among China, Serbia and the rest of CEE countries, an expert said on Nov 5.
Aleksandra Joksimovic, head of the Belgrade-based NGO Centre for Foreign Policy, said CEE countries will prioritize infrastructure construction and privatization of public companies while seeking cooperation with China.
The expert believed “China is strategically oriented towards the further promotion of the New Silk Road” at the summit in Riga, capital of Latvia.
“China sees Central and Eastern Europe as a promising market where the country can offer its products,” she said.
Joksimovic says joint projects in the past have shown that deals sealed at “16+1” summits are serious.
Citing Serbia-China cooperation as an example, Joksimovic said Chinese company HeSteel’s acquisition of the Serbian steel mill in Smederevo was conducive to the local economy.
Acquisition and revitalization of troubled public companies is important to Serbia because it solves problems and allows the country to further its economic development, according to the expert.
“China is one of the world’s biggest steel manufacturers and it wishes to expand its industry to Europe. This has strategic importance for us because it solves some of problems hindering our economic development and stabilization,” she continued.
Besides the steel mill project, the two countries now have moved forward their cooperation towards the construction of a high-speed railway linking Belgrade to Budapest.
Joksimovic said infrastructure projects were of key importance in Serbia-China cooperation.
“As an important country in the Balkans, Serbia has an urgent need for infrastructure construction and connection with other countries of the region in order to become a part of the transit route between the East and the West,” she said.
Talking about the Riga Summit, Joksimovic said it will continue the good momentum of developing bilateral ties between Serbia and China on the basis of the achievements during previous summits.
Cooperation with China is of strategic importance for Serbia, who needs to seize the opportunities that China provides, she said.
She also believes China is preparing for bigger investments, as proved by the expected arrival of Bank of China in Serbia.
“When serious investments are planned, banks from the investor are established,” she said.