The Fourth Summit of China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries was held in Suzhou on Nov 24-25. Premier Li Keqiang and leaders from 16 CEE countries formulated a 5-year blueprint for cooperation in areas such as connectivity, trade and investment, finance, agriculture and people-to-people exchanges. Two political documents was issued at the meeting, namely, the Medium-term Plan for Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries and the Suzhou Guidelines for Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries.
It is the first such summit held in China, and it established a milestone for future cooperation.
A New Start
In 2014, trade volume between China and CEE countries passed $60 billion and substantial progress was achieved in a number of infrastructure and energy projects.
Over the past three years, the 16+1 cooperation, just like a high-speed train, has set out on its journey and is hurtling all the way from Warsaw to Bucharest and from Belgrade to Suzhou, the Premier said during a keynote speech at the summit. The train is where it is today because every carriage has served to provide a driving force to ensure that cooperation is steady and produces lasting results, he added.
Kong Tianping, a researcher with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said China and the CEE countries see great potential for economic and trade cooperation under the lead of the 16+1 mechanism, especially given the background of China’s promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative.
During the summit the Premier proposed implementing the roadmap for advancing cooperation, promoting synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the development strategies of the CEE countries. He also highlighted the importance of setting new examples for cooperation on production capacity, to keep looking for new investment and financing cooperation, and promoting the growth of both trade and investment.
“Aligning the 16+1 mechanism with the Belt and Road Initiative will provide new opportunities for China and the CEE countries to deepen cooperation in production capacity, transportation, infrastructure and finance,” said Cui Hongjian, a China-Europe relations specialist at the China Institute of International Studies.
The CEE countries will not only be a destination for Chinese enterprises’ “go global” strategy, but also facilitates their expansion to the European Union and it can become an important channel for Chinese goods and capital to enter the EU, Cui said.
Just as the Premier said, the 16+1 cooperation now stands at a new historical starting point, and the prospects ahead are only brighter. Closer cooperation among us will form synergy, like a clenched fist, to produce massive results, Cui said.