BUDAPEST — Premier Li Keqiang on Nov 26 arrived in Hungary for an official visit to the country and the sixth meeting of heads of government of China and 16 Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) in Budapest.
Leaders of the 17 countries are expected to draw a new blueprint for the 16+1 cooperation five years after the mechanism was launched. And Premier Li’s visit is also set to bring bilateral ties between China and Hungary to a higher level.
At the airport, Premier Li was welcomed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and other senior officials.
After the meeting and visit scheduled for Nov 26-29, he is going to attend the 16th meeting of the Council of Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the Russian city of Sochi from Nov 30 to Dec 1.
FIVE YEARS ON, LEADERS TO DRAW NEW BLUEPRINT FOR 16+1 COOPERATION
Noting that this year marks the fifth anniversary of the launching of China-CEEC 16+1 cooperation, Premier Li said upon his arrival that the 16+1 cooperation has been growing in the past five years, benefiting people from the two sides with substantial projects and cooperation results.
Being part of China-Europe cooperation, the 16+1 cooperation has not only boosted the development of the CEEC themselves, but also promoted a balanced development for the wider Europe, which is good for Europe’s integration, he said.
“China is willing to work with all sides to review what we have achieved in the past five years and draw a blueprint for the future to achieve greater progress,” he said.
During the meeting, Premier Li is expected to join hands with CEEC leaders to set out an outline for future cooperation, witness the signing of a series of cooperation documents, meet the press, attend the seventh China-CEEC economic and trade cooperation forum, celebrate the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the 16+1 cooperation, and hold bilateral meetings with CEEC leaders.
Ahead of the visit, the Premier vowed to bring China-CEEC cooperation and China-Hungary ties to a new high.
In an article published in the newspaper The Hungarian Times, he said the 16+1 cooperation has been growing and the mechanism improving over the past five years, bringing about remarkable progress to cooperation in all fields.
Political mutual trust between China and the CEEC has been deepened, with the two sides having established cooperation mechanisms in about 20 areas, he said.
Economic cooperation has seen a steady growth, with bilateral trade increasing to $58.7 billion in 2016 from $43.9 billion in 2010 and the completion of a number of landmark infrastructure projects, said the Premier in the article.
Chinese Ambassador to Hungary Duan Jielong told a recent think tank conference that the current ties between China and the CEEC are “at their best in history.”
After a great start, the 16+1 cooperation demands a new direction and new momentum, the Premier said.
VISIT FOR STRONGER CHINA-HUNGARY TIES
On China-Hungary ties, Premier Li said on his arrival that the two countries enjoy profound traditional friendship. He also spoke highly of the development of bilateral relations since the two sides established diplomatic relations more than 60 years ago.
“I’m looking forward to discussing with the Hungarian side about cooperation and jointly fleshing out the content of the China-Hungary comprehensive strategic partnership,” Premier Li said.
In May, President Xi Jinping and Orban announced the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries in Beijing.
During the visit, Premier Li will hold talks with Orban, witness the signing of documents concerning political, economic, financial and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation between the two countries, and meet the press.
The Premier will also meet with Hungarian President Janos Ader and Parliament Speaker Laszlo Kover.
In the article on the Hungarian newspaper, Premier Li said both countries are beneficiaries and supporters of economic globalization, and it is in line with the fundamental interests of the two countries to stick to trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.
The Premier hailed the strategic alignment of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative with Hungary’s Eastern Opening policy, adding that the Initiative and 16+1 cooperation have put the two countries’ economic and trade cooperation on a fast lane, with progress made in areas of investment, finance, agriculture, scientific and technological innovation and small and medium-sized enterprises.
China and Hungary have also made strides in people-to-people exchanges and cooperation in the areas of culture, education, sports, tourism and traditional Chinese medicine, he said.
Both sides hold that China-Hungary ties have entered the best period in history, the Premier said.