Promising 16+1 cooperation helps boost European development, integration
China and the 16 Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) are striving to advance their cooperation, which is significant in fueling up the overall development in Europe and strengthening the integration of the continent.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the seventh China and the Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) Economic and Trade Forum in Budapest, Hungary, Nov. 27, 2017. [Photo: Xinhua/Ju Peng]
As an important part of and a helpful complement to China-Europe ties, 16+1 cooperation has promoted the development of China-Europe relations, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in a keynote speech at the seventh China-CEEC Economic and Trade Forum held in the Hungarian capital of Budapest on Monday.
INITIATIVES TO ENHANCE CHINA-CEEC COOPERATION
Li proposed five initiatives to further promote cooperation between China and the CEEC while addressing the sixth meeting of heads of government of China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries on Monday.
First, he called on the two sides to expand economic and trade scale, and boost trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.
Second, he encouraged the countries to speed up major projects on connectivity, promoting links through land, sea, air and the Internet.
Third, the premier suggested that the two sides probe into cooperation modes such as industrial parks in the areas of production capacity, energy, logistics and agriculture.
Fourth, Li called for strong financial support for the 16+1 cooperation. He has announced the establishment of China-CEEC Inter-Bank Association and the second phase of China-CEEC Investment Cooperation Fund.
Fifth, he called on the countries to conduct more cultural and people-to-people exchanges, enhance cooperation on tourism, and start cooperation between youths, in areas of traditional Chinese medicine, sports and protection of women and children. He proposed making 2018 the year of China-CEEC local cooperation.
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the launching of 16+1 cooperation. Li said in his speech that the 16+1 cooperation has been growing in the past five years, becoming an influential trans-regional mechanism with substantial projects and cooperation results.
Stressing that the 16+1 cooperation does not mean to add up the 16 bilateral ties simply, Li said he believed that with the joint efforts of the 17 countries, the 16+1 cooperation will yield more results and reach a new level.
Leaders of the 16 CEE countries spoke highly of Li's initiatives, saying that the fruitful results of cooperation in the past five years is a testimony to the willingness of all countries to strengthen cooperation and the growing importance of the mechanism.
They vowed to make full use of the platform to promote 16+1 cooperation, implement their consensus on cooperation, explore new potentials, strengthen practical cooperation in such fields as connectivity, finance, e-commerce, agriculture, logistics, small and medium-sized enterprises, tourism and culture, and push forward their relations with China as well as EU-China ties.
16+1 CONTRIBUTES TO OVERALL EUROPEAN DEVELOPMENT
The 16+1 cooperation is not a geopolitical tool, but an incubator for pragmatic trans-regional cooperation, said Li at the meeting of heads of government of China and CEE countries.
As part and parcel of China-Europe cooperation, the 16+1 cooperation has not only helped the development of the Central and Eastern European countries themselves, but also promoted the balanced development of Europe as a whole, which is conducive to the process of European integration, Li said upon arriving Budapest for the 16+1 events on Sunday.
Analysts believe that the 16+1 cooperation, a key element for the China-Europe comprehensive strategic partnership, will promote balanced development in Europe by enhancing economic performance in its central and eastern region.
The potential for further deepening China-CEEC cooperation has been great, said Zhang Jian, a researcher with China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
The two sides can work together to push forward the integration between the 16+1 cooperation and China's cooperation with Europe as a whole, he said.
Faced up with multiple challenges, Europe may eventually find a way out with China's efforts to build a community of shared future for mankind, said Wan Zhe, chief economist with the International cooperation center of China's National Development and Reform Commission.
China showed its firm support to European integration by forging ahead with the 16+1 cooperation, she added.
"Such cooperation is providing a strong buttress for a solidified European Union, a prosperous Europe and a stable euro," said Wan.
Echoing her voices, Liu Zuokui, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the global financial crisis and the European sovereign debt crisis have limited the EU's ability to support the development of CEE countries.
China's participation fills the gap, he said, adding that "the development of China-CEEC relations could help bring about a rebound for the European economy."