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Premier Li to boost regional ties in 5-day trip

Mo Jingxi and Zhou Jin
Updated: Nov 22,2017 7:42 AM     China Daily

China will enhance cooperation with Central and Eastern European countries under the Belt and Road Initiative during Premier Li Keqiang’s upcoming visit to the region, senior Chinese officials said on Nov 21.

The visit, which comes after the conclusion of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, bears great importance for promoting cooperation and relations with countries that will take part in the meetings he will attend, they added.

During the five-day trip, which will begin on Nov 26, Premier Li will attend the sixth meeting of heads of government of China-Central and Eastern European Countries in Budapest and make an official visit to Hungary.

He will also fly to the Russian city of Sochi to attend the 16th meeting of the Council of Heads of Governments (Prime Ministers) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

China expects to deepen mutual trust, further promote trade liberalization and facilitation of investment, and to upgrade the 16+1 mechanism for cooperation between China and the 16 European nations during the China-CEE meeting, said Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Chao at a news briefing on Nov 21.

During the meeting, the Premier will discuss the results of the CPC congress and discuss in depth with other leaders their countries’ development paths and governance experiences, Wang said.

According to Li Chenggang, assistant minister of commerce, infrastructure and connectivity will remain as highlights of China-CEE cooperation, with the planned China-Europe Land-Sea Express Route and the Hungary-Serbia railway being priority projects.

China is willing, together with CEE countries, to make 16+1 cooperation an important support for the Belt and Road Initiative to promote involvement in European economies, Wang said.

Premier Li’s visit to Hungary will be his first since he became premier in 2013, and also the first since the two countries established a comprehensive strategic partnership this year.

During his stay, he will meet with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and exchange views on bilateral ties, the Belt and Road Initiative, China-CEE cooperation and other issues of common concern, Wang said.

The two countries will sign a series of governmental and commercial cooperative agreements involving strategic integration, trade and economy, e-commerce, finance and production capacity, he said.

Two-way trade volume between China and Hungary in the first nine months of this year reached $7.4 billion, a year-on-year increase of 14.2 percent, Li said, and Hungary is the largest destination of Chinese investment in Central and Eastern Europe.