Remarks by H.E. Li Keqiang
Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
At the Fourth Summit of
China and Central and Eastern European Countries
Suzhou, 24 November 2015
I am very glad to be with you in Suzhou. On behalf of the Chinese government and people, let me warmly welcome leaders from the 16 Central and Eastern European countries to China for the Fourth Summit of China and Central and Eastern European Countries. I also welcome the representatives from the EU, Austria, Greece and EBRD to attend the meeting as observers.
China’s ancient thinker Confucius once said that “three years of hard work will surely lead to accomplishments”. Over the past three years, the 16+1 cooperation, just like a fast-speed train, has set out on its journey and gained speed all the way from Warsaw to Bucharest, and from Belgrade to Suzhou. Such a fast train has traveled to where it is today because every carriage has served to provide incessant driving force to ensure that our cooperation is steady and produces lasting results. I am confident that this meeting will not only help promote the political mutual trust among us, but also facilitate new progress in our practical cooperation.
In 2012, China and 16 CEECs reached agreement and opened a new avenue of cooperation between China and European countries, linking the world’s largest developing country and CEECs ever more closely. Over the past years, through platforms such as the Economic and Trade Forum, Secretariat for Cooperation, National Coordinators’ Meeting, Ministerial Meeting on Promoting Trade and Economic Cooperation and Local Leaders’ Meeting, we have advanced and expanded 16+1 cooperation, which is getting increasingly enriched and mature. The common documents issued at the previous three meetings have proposed over 100 cooperation measures and projects covering economy, trade, investment, infrastructure, finance, tourism, education, agriculture, culture, local cooperation and other areas. Most measures put forward in the Bucharest Guidelines and Belgrade Guidelines have been or are being implemented to the benefit of people of our countries.
The development of 16+1 cooperation has yielded fruitful results. Valuable experience has been gained that we need to cherish and carry forward. China and CEECs enjoy close historical bonds and deep traditional friendship. Moreover, we have built solid political trust under new circumstances. Our cooperation has not only reflected the principles of equality, openness and inclusiveness, but also actively synergized our respective development strategies in a flexible way suited to our respective national conditions. Our cooperation has fully accommodated the relevant concerns of the EU and moved in parallel with the greater interests of China-EU cooperation. It shows our commitment to achieving all-win outcomes for China, CEECs and the EU. It is fair to say that we have explored a new model of practical cooperation among countries in different regions of the world and with different systems.
The world is now undergoing profound and complex changes. The global economy is still in doldrums. Certain regions and countries are in turmoil. Fluctuations are increasing in the international financial market. Countries in the world are speeding up structural reforms and expanding cooperation with the outside world. Many European countries have placed greater importance on their cooperation with China. China is now formulating its 13th Five-Year Plan and will focus its energy on promoting innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development in order to achieve the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020. This is bound to offer greater market space for China-CEEC cooperation. In this sense, we will embrace unprecedented new opportunities to deepen our cooperation across the board.
Despite the ups and downs in the international situation, cooperation between China and the CEECs, which is making steady headway, has become a spotlight on the global and regional stage. The theme of the meeting this year is “new beginning, new domains and new vision”. Today, I wish to propose a “1+6” cooperation framework for our future cooperation, which includes one goal and six priorities. One goal means that we will formulate an agenda for cooperation for the next five years, make our cooperation more sustainable and forward-looking, and build a new model of partnership featuring openness, inclusiveness and win-win outcomes. Six priorities refer to the tasks in the following aspects on which we need to concentrate, bearing in mind both the short-term and long-term interests:
First, we need to implement the roadmap for advancing cooperation. China and the EU have agreed that the two sides will work to synergize the Belt and Road initiative with the development plan for Europe, the international cooperation on industrial capacity with the Investment Plan for Europe, and 16+1 cooperation with China-EU cooperation. This has laid a solid foundation for medium- and long-term cooperation between China and CEECs. At the meeting, two political documents will be issued, namely, the first 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. The Medium-term Plan will draw a blueprint for our cooperation in the next five years. It will follow the priority areas of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan and enable China and CEECs to share each other’s development opportunities. The Suzhou Guidelines will provide a roadmap for specific cooperation in the near future. China is ready to work with the 16 countries to deliver on cooperation projects. Implementation of the meeting’s outcomes will be duly evaluated and reviewed to make sure that our people truly feel the benefit of our cooperation.
Second, we need to promote synergy between the Belt and Road initiative and the development strategies of CEECs, and conduct cooperation on infrastructure development. Given the sluggish world economy recovery and the downward pressure facing the economy of various countries, infrastructure development will help boost consumption through investment, and greater connectivity will bring forward trade liberalization and investment facilitation. Located at the east gateway to Europe and along the routes of the Belt and Road initiative, CEECs enjoy a distinct advantage for enhancing connectivity. China is ready to discuss and sign cooperation agreements on connectivity with CEECs. We may form synergy between our respective policies and work faster to build demonstrative projects. In November 2013, the leaders of China, Hungary and Serbia jointly announced the Belgrade-Budapest railway project, and this year has witnessed substantive progress in the joint endeavor. Today, China will sign relevant agreement respectively with Hungary and Serbia to kick-start and advance the project. China is ready to work with other parties, including countries along this route, to build the China-Europe land-sea express line and promote connectivity in Europe. We also encourage businesses to be involved in cooperation in transport and logistics. China hopes to carry out customs cooperation with relevant countries to make customs clearing more convenient along the land-sea express line. We may work together to develop China-Europe rail links and expand exchanges and cooperation on civil aviation. We welcome Serbia and Latvia to lead the respective efforts for setting up associations on transport infrastructure and logistics cooperation with a view to creating new platforms for our connectivity cooperation.
Third, we need to set new examples for cooperation on production capacity. China has a full-fledged industrial system, advanced capabilities for equipment manufacturing, a large number of leading industries and quality capacity, and extensive experience in engineering design, construction and management. CEECs, on their part, are in a crucial stage of infrastructure construction and transformation and the upgrading of industrial systems, and therefore have strong demand for construction materials, machinery and other equipment. China is ready to work with the 16 countries to conduct diverse forms of two-way cooperation on production capacity. We may draw on our comparative advantages and the characteristics of our industries, and combine these efforts with connectivity cooperation, in particular the upgrading and improvement of port facilities and port areas. China’s cost-effective equipment and products will help CEECs drive down the cost of purchases. Quite a number of CEECs including Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Latvia and Bulgaria have proposed to strengthen cooperation on port development. China has put forward the cooperation initiative involving the ports of the Adriatic, Baltic and Black seas, which will focus on production capacity cooperation among the ports and industrial parks of the coastal areas of the Adriatic Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. In ports where conditions are readily available, efforts will be made to build industrial clusters, so that in addition to increased cargo handling capacity, these ports and port areas will also become basis of industrial development. We expect our companies to be the main players in these projects. We will follow market-oriented approaches and pursue win-win outcomes. We need to step up support for such cooperation so that more projects of production capacity cooperation will emerge and become highlights of 16+1 cooperation.
Fourth, we need to keep looking for new ways for investment and financing cooperation. Financing is a weak link in 16+1 cooperation. China respects EU regulations regarding the sovereign debts of its member states. While working with CEECs to make good use of the US$10 billion special loans and the investment cooperation fund, China proposes the establishment of a 16+1 finance company to support production capacity cooperation between member states through business means. We could also explore new models such as “Internet-based e-commerce+financing” to build platforms for trade and financing that reinforce each other in the Internet era. China supports establishing RMB settlement arrangements in CEECs, and encourages Chinese financial institutions, including commercial banks, to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with regional and international multilateral financial institutions, including the EBRD, in order to provide more financial support for 16+1 cooperation. China has decided that with its largest commercial bank, the ICBC, taking the lead, and with the participation of the China Development Bank and Exim Bank, we will discuss how to participate in China-CEEC cooperation on production capacity through the business model of multilateral financial institutions. China will provide preferential financing support for those that uses Chinese products and equipment in production capacity cooperation.
Fifth, we need to promote the growth of both trade and investment. Investment and trade are the anchors of practical cooperation and have much potential to be tapped. China wants to promote trade and investment facilitation together with the 16 countries. CEECs are strong in agriculture and each has its own specialty in agricultural produce. China is pushing for breakthroughs in its cooperation in this field with Serbia, Macedonia, Lithuania and Estonia. We also hope to expand our trade in agricultural produce and food with more CEECs to promote the growth of trade in a balanced way. China supports new platforms to connect our SMEs in innovation cooperation. Next year, China will host such important events as the China-CEEC Ministerial Meeting on Promoting Trade and Economic Cooperation and the Local Leaders’ Meeting. We welcome the participation of all parties in these events.
CEECs have respective strengths in the industrial sector. We welcome your companies to invest in China and conduct technological cooperation with Chinese research institutes and universities.
Sixth, we need to expand people-to-people and cultural exchanges. People-to-people and cultural interactions are the “infrastructure” for deepening state-to-state relations and the “projects of the heart” that contribute to goodwill among the people. We suggest that the year 2016 be made the year of 16+1 people-to-people and cultural exchanges to fully leverage existing cooperation platforms in education, science and technology, culture, youth, health and the media through an array of events in people-to-people and cultural interactions. We need to discuss new measures to promote and facilitate tourism exchanges through our tourism cooperation mechanism. China supports setting up health care cooperation platforms, such as a 16+1 public hospital network. We hope that more centers of traditional Chinese medicine will be opened in CEECs through cooperation to provide local communities medical service with Chinese features. China supports the building of a 16+1 think tanks network and encourages more interactions among Sinologists of the two sides.
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 clenching fist, to produce massive results. Our host city Suzhou is known to the world for its fine embroidery. China stands ready to work with CEECs to embroider a masterpiece of cooperation. Together, through 16+1 cooperation, we could promote better development of our countries and bring even more benefits to our peoples!