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China-CEEC partnership promotes open, equal, practical cooperation in and beyond region

Updated: Dec 1,2017 8:46 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — A cooperative mechanism between China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) has promoted open, equal and practical cooperation, and will make unique contributions to building a community of shared future for mankind, experts said.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the launching of the cooperation between China and 16 CEE countries, dubbed 16+1. Leaders present at the sixth meeting of heads of government of China and the CEEC held in Budapest on Nov 27 agreed that the mechanism has yielded fruitful results in cooperation in various fields, benefiting peoples of and beyond their countries.

FAST DEVELOPING COOPERATIVE MECHANISM

Premier Li Keqiang said the 16+1 cooperation has been growing in the past five years, becoming an influential trans-regional mechanism with substantial projects and cooperation results.

Premier Li said the key to the fast development of the 16+1 cooperation is to apply the principle of equality and consultation, mutual benefit, openness and inclusiveness, as well as innovation.

In the past five years, the 16+1 cooperation has been expanding fast to engage more countries and cover more fields, said Long Jing, deputy director of the Center for European Studies of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.

Long said Central European countries were more responsive upon the mechanism’s establishment in 2012, now Baltic and Balkan countries have also pitched in, actively tabling cooperative proposals in line with their own development strategies.

In terms of its content, Long said that the 16+1 cooperation has expanded to such fields as infrastructure construction, agriculture and forestry, logistics, science and technology, finance, energy and health.

PARADIGM OF BALANCED, OPEN, INCLUSIVE COOPERATION

In the past years, the cooperation has been undergoing a structural transformation and breakthroughs to become more open, inclusive, balanced and diversified, experts said.

Proportionally, China has been reducing its exports to and increasing its imports from the CEEC, testifying to the fact that bilateral trade has become more balanced, Long said.

Wieslaw Klimczak, president of Poland’s Civil Association “Polish House,” calling the 16+1 cooperation a mutually beneficial mechanism of win-win results, praised China’s pledge to promote the balanced development of bilateral trade by importing more agricultural products such as meat and diary products, as well as honey and fruit from the CEEC.

Besides, the cooperation is more open and inclusive and features a high level of transparency as more countries and institutions from outside the region are invited to join in its meetings and projects, for example the European Union (EU), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Austria, Greece and Switzerland, said Dong Yifan, an expert with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

The trend testifies to the Premier’s remarks that the 16+1 cooperation is not a geopolitical tool, but an incubator for pragmatic trans-regional cooperation, and that the cooperation is conducive to the balanced development of China-EU relations, experts said.

Wang Yiwei, an expert on Europe with Renmin University of China, said instead of tearing Europe apart, the 16+1 cooperation has been helping to promote European integration.

For example, the mechanism has boosted European integration by helping bridge the development gap between Eastern and Western Europe as well as the gap within the CEEC, Wang said.

Dong, for his part, observed that the documents signed at this year’s 16+1 meeting, which included far-reaching measures to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, embodied a vision beyond bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the region.

The documents embody a spirit that promotes common development and prosperity and will make unique contributions to building a community of shared future for mankind, Dong said.

BRIGHTER PROSPECTS

This year’s meeting, held upon the fifth anniversary of the 16+1 cooperation’s launching, promised an even brighter future, experts said, underlining, among others, developments in financial cooperation.

Premier Li announced the establishment of the China-CEEC Inter-Bank Association and the second phase of the China-Central and Eastern Europe Investment Cooperation Fund.

David Kovacs, deputy director at the Chengdu Shuangliu Innovation & Pioneering Enterprise Services Co. Ltd, said financial cooperation between China and the CEE countries will channel more money to the region, promoting the launch of more major development projects.

Closer financial cooperation will also facilitate trade between China and the CEEC, he added.

Experts agreed that the advancing financial cooperation between China and the CEEC testifies to the strong willingness of both sides to further strengthen their partnership of cooperation and will inject fresh impetus into cooperation in various fields.

The China-CEEC partnership is expected to witness greater development in the future, said Long.

She said that more plans and initiatives will transit from negotiation to implementation, thus bringing tangible benefits to the people, and more major transnational projects will be launched to boost the region’s development and competitiveness.

Besides, cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and the CEEC are on the rise, which will lay a solid public foundation for the development of their practical cooperation.

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