The Belt and Road Initiative extends westward into Europe, first of which comes to Central and Eastern European countries. Central and Eastern Europe is also the region where the Belt and Road Initiative has the most achievements in the early stage of Europe.
On February 9, Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over the China-Central and Eastern European Leaders Summit in Beijing by video and delivered a keynote speech entitled “Concentrate, Carry on the Past, and Work Together to Compose a New Chapter of Cooperation”.
The economic and trade results of the summit are extremely rich, including expanding imports from Central and Eastern European countries, expanding cooperation in the digital economy, e-commerce, health industry and other fields, and signing 53 business cooperation agreements totaling nearly 13 billion US dollars.
What kind of cooperation mechanism is behind these achievements? How to achieve better mutual benefit between China and Central and Eastern European countries in the future? Today I will interpret it for you.
On February 9, on the eve of the New Year of the Ox in the Chinese lunar calendar, the China-Central and Eastern European Leaders Summit was held by video.
President Xi Jinping presided over the summit and delivered a keynote speech to discuss the cooperation and development plan of China-Central and Eastern European countries with the leaders of Central and Eastern Europe participating in the meeting.
He pointed out that the holding of the summit in the special context of the COVID-19 epidemic demonstrated the determination of all countries to cooperate, overcome difficulties and seek common development.
This summit is China’s first home diplomacy this year. It is the highest-level leaders’ meeting held since the establishment of the China-Central and Eastern European cooperation mechanism.
It is also an important international multilateral event held in the context of the global joint fight against the COVID-19 epidemic, which attracted attention from all parties.
In his keynote speech, President Xi Jinping reviewed the nine-year process of China-Central and Eastern European cooperation mechanism since its establishment, pointing out that China-Central and Eastern European countries’ cooperation has formed a principle of cooperation that conforms to their own characteristics and is accepted by all parties: first, everyone can discuss and do it, second, let partners gain, and third, open up. The fourth is to develop together through innovation.
Geographically, Central and Eastern Europe, from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Mediterranean Sea in the south, is an important transit point connecting Western and northern Europe.
Most Central and Eastern European countries are also the first countries to recognize New China, and have a deep traditional friendship with China.
In April 2012, the China-Central and Eastern European Cooperation Mechanism was officially established, including 16 Central and Eastern European countries such as Poland, Serbia and the Czech Republic.
In April 2019, Greece joined the China-Central and Eastern European Cooperation Mechanism as a full member, becoming the first Western European country to join the cooperation mechanism.
Since the establishment of the China-Central and Eastern European Cooperation Mechanism, the leaders of China-Central and Eastern European countries have held eight meetings and nearly 40 cooperation platforms have been established in more than 20 fields, covering economic and trade investment, agriculture, tourism, education and other fields. In his keynote speech on February 9, President Xi Jinping put forward the cooperation belief of “17+1 greater than 18” in response to the cooperation image of China-Central and Eastern European countries.
Wang Fan, vice president of the Foreign Affairs College, said: “It was originally called 16+1. It is indeed open and transparent, respects various rules, and the most important thing in the whole process is not to exclus it, not target a third party, 17+1 greater than 18, that is, 1+1 greater than 2.
Only by doing a good job in the incrementality of this cooperation, can Only by benefiting all parties can this cooperation be sustainable.
Economic and trade cooperation has always been an important part of China-Central and Eastern European cooperation. According to the Ministry of Commerce of China, since 2012, China’s trade growth rate with 17 countries in Central and Eastern Europe has averaged an average annual growth rate of 8%, more than three times the growth rate of China’s foreign trade.
In 2020, even if affected by uncertain factors such as the epidemic, the trade volume still increased against the trend, exceeding 100 billion yuan for the first time.
A total of 12,400 China-EU trains have been opened in the past year, and China’s newly signed project contracts in 17 countries in Central and Eastern Europe reached 5.41 billion US dollars, an increase of 34.6% year-on-year.
As President Xi Jinping pointed out in his speech, China and Central and Eastern European countries have focused on pragmatic cooperation and achieved the goal of helping their respective development and improving the well-being of the people.
Pragmatic cooperation is regarded as an important driving force for the counter-trend growth of trade between China and Central and Eastern Europe, and also a prominent feature of the China-Central and Eastern European cooperation mechanism.
Liu Zuokui, director of the Central and Eastern Europe Research Office of the European Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said: “After the establishment of the cooperation platform, we have grasped one main line, that is, pragmatic cooperation, which only involves economy, trade and humanities.
We discuss together, build together, share interests together, and the golden iron law has been well implemented in this region. This is an important reason why this mechanism has been developed for so many years. Every country is widely involved and every country plays its advantages.”
On November 25, 2020, with the start of the train, the left line of the Serbian Zemun-Bataginica section of the Hungarian-Serbian-Serbroad, which was built by Chinese enterprises, was successfully opened to traffic. As a key project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the total length of the Hungarian-Serbskirtese railway is 302 kilometers, of which the Serbian section is 142.6 kilometers, which is the first time for China’s high-speed railway to enter Europe.
After the opening of the Hungarian-Serbskirtese high-speed railway, it will take less than three hours for the train from Belgrade to Budapest, which will greatly improve the region. The degree of transportation of people. This is a microcosm of China’s extensive practical cooperation and common development with Central and Eastern European countries.
Liu Zuokui said: “Central and Eastern Europe is the region involved in the direction of the Belt and Road Initiative.
The region with the most achievements in the early stage, including flagship project railways, important projects such as Continental and Sea Express, and some demonstration projects of regional interconnection, indicating that the Belt and Road Initiative has been relatively successful in landing here and has achieved great progress.
In the future, China-Central and Eastern European countries will actually cooperate in the field of interconnection, and there will be more room for it.
It is adhering to these principles that the China-Central and Eastern European Cooperation Mechanism has achieved fruitful results in infrastructure construction, cultural exchanges, local cooperation and other fields.
Last year, China and the European Union also completed the China-EU negotiations on time to achieve signing the China-EU investment agreement.
Major breakthroughs such as the European Geographical Indications Agreement, President Xi Jinping pointed out that China-Central and Eastern European countries cooperation has become an important part of China-EU relations.
The positive development of China-EU relations has also brought new opportunities for China-Central and Eastern European countries to cooperate.
Huo Yuzhen, Special Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for China-Central and Eastern European Countries, said: “China-Central and Eastern European countries cooperation is an important part of China-EU relations and a useful supplement. As 12 of Central and Eastern European countries are members of the European Union, especially the construction of industrial parks such as interconnection.
These aspects In fact, it is through China-Central and Eastern European countries’ cooperation first trial, which in turn can promote the interconnection of Eurasia University, which has indeed played a role in promoting this aspect and is also conducive to the comprehensive and balanced development of China-EU relations.
In his speech, President Xi Jinping pointed out that China-Central and Eastern European countries cooperation is an influential cross-regional cooperation platform.
Looking forward to the future, he put forward four suggestions for the cooperation and development of China-Central and Eastern European countries under the new situation, including facing the challenges of the epidemic and strengthening the confidence of cooperation to overcome difficulties together; focusing on interconnection and unblocking the cooperation artery of linkage development; adhering to the pragmatic orientation and expanding the results of mutually beneficial cooperation; focusing on green development and creating a face-faceted approach. The momentum of cooperation to the future.
At present, the fight against COVID-19 remains the most urgent task. President Xi Jinping said that China is willing to continue to provide vaccines to relevant countries within its capabilities, and contribute to promoting vaccines as global public goods and promoting their equitable distribution and use globally.
On January 16 this year, the coronavirus vaccine produced by China National Pharmaceutical Group arrived in Belgrade. Serbian President Vučić braved the cold to meet him at the airport, making Serbia the first European country to receive a Chinese vaccine.
On January 29, Hungary also approved the emergency authorization of the Chinese National Pharmaceutical Group for coronavirus vaccine, and a total of 5 million doses of Chinese vaccine will be delivered to Hungary in the next four months to meet the vaccination needs of a quarter of the country’s population.
President Xi Jinping’s statement about China’s active assistance to Central and Eastern European countries in anti-epidemic cooperation has been highly praised by all parties at the summit.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi revealed in an interview with the media after the meeting that all parties at the meeting thanked China for providing anti-epidemic assistance.
Many countries said that China’s positive statement showed the responsibility of a great power, increased the confidence of countries to work together to defeat the epidemic, and were willing to further deepen cooperation with China in vaccines, drugs research and development, promotion of resumption of work and production, and help economic recovery and development.
With the global epidemic gradually under control in the future, the economic and trade prospects of China and Central and Eastern European countries will also usher in new hope.
In his speech, President Xi Jinping announced that China plans to import more than 170 billion US dollars worth of goods from Central and Eastern European countries in the next five years, and strives to double China’s agricultural imports from Central and Eastern European countries in the next five years, and increase the agricultural trade volume of the two sides by 50%.
In 2021, China will soon begin to implement the 14th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development and start a new journey to build a modern socialist country in an all-round way.
We will accelerate the construction of a new development pattern with the domestic large cycle as the main body and the domestic and international double cycles promote each other.
The ultra-large-scale market and domestic demand potential composed of more than 400 million middle-income groups will be fully released, which will undoubtedly create more demand and opportunities for the world.
President Xi Jinping pointed out that China’s sustained development and opening-up will inject strong momentum into the recovery and growth of the world economy, and will also open up broader space for China-Central and Eastern European countries to cooperate.
Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries proves an inequality, 17+1 greater than 18. Compared with nine years ago, the trade volume between China and Central and Eastern European countries has increased by nearly 85%.
The Central and Eastern European train has covered most Central and Eastern European countries, with more than 30,000 trains running.
Even in the context of the global economic recession in 2020, the trade volume between China and Central and Eastern European countries has risen against the trend, breaking through 100 billion. These facts Both illustrate the vitality, resilience and prospects of the China-Central and Eastern European cooperation mechanism.
If there is something to discuss and do, so that all partners can gain, develop together in openness and tolerance, and continue to grow in innovation. The cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries will go more steadily, more solidly and farther.