DUBROVNIK, Croatia — As leaders of China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs) gather here for their annual meeting, it is good time to review the achievements of the booming cooperation mechanism and plan for a more fruitful future.
Since the China-CEEC platform was launched in 2012, trade between them has increased more than 50 percent. The volume reached $82.23 billion last year, up 21 percent year-on-year, with Chinese imports from the 16 CEECs rising faster than its exports.
China and the CEECs have also seen growing mutual investment. According to official data, CEEC investment in China has surpassed $1.5 billion, and Chinese investment in the region has exceeded $10 billion.
Meanwhile, China and the CEECs have become important partners within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). All the 16 CEECs have signed BRI cooperation agreements with China, and major projects like the Hungary-Serbia railway are advancing smoothly.
As the two sides are deepening infrastructure cooperation, China, as Premier Li Keqiang has noted, will ensure projects being completed with high quality and for mutual benefit, and work with the CEECs to strive for win-win and all-win cooperation.
The Peljesac Bridge project, which is being built in compliance with European Union (EU) laws and standards by a Chinese contractor which won the bid through open tendering, is a convincing example of that pledge.
In addition, China-CEEC cooperation has been following the principle of openness and inclusiveness. The EU and European countries and institutions have been invited to the annual leaders’ meetings as observers.
Those figures and facts have demonstrated the win-win nature of China-CEEC cooperation and Beijing’s support for CEEC development and European integration, and given the lie to those accusing China of playing a so-called “divide-and-rule” game in the continent.
Geographically, the CEECs sit in the central part of the Eurasian landmass, thus making them natural bridges linking China and the western part of the European continent. Therefore, the CEECs can play an important and unique role in fostering a robust, comprehensive and balanced China-Europe partnership.
Presently, 11 of the 16 CEECs are EU members, and the other five are trying to join the regional bloc. Stronger China-CEEC cooperation will help shrink the CEECs’ development deficit and boost the European integration process, instead of delaying or disturbing it.
Right now, as the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, China, the CEECs and the broader Europe are all aspiring to boost development.
It serves the interests of all parties that they discard unfounded suspicions, deepen communication and coordination, and work together to pursue common development that benefits all.