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. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has called for enhancing links between China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), and has come up with very pragmatic proposals to advance their cooperation.
As an important part of and a helpful complement to China-Europe ties, cooperation between China and the 16 CEE countries, which is dubbed 16 1, has promoted the development of China-Europe relations, Li said in a keynote speech to the seventh China-CEEC Economic and Trade Forum held in the Hungarian capital city of Budapest on Monday.
The premier called for docking the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative with the development strategies of the CEEC.
Speaking to over 1,000 entrepreneurs from China and the CEEC at the opening ceremony of the forum, Li also demanded efforts to accelerate the building of connectivity projects such as the Hungary-Serbia railway and promote the healthy development of China-Europe freight train services.
Production capacity is also an area where the two sides should expand cooperation, said Li, calling for jointly building economic and trade cooperation zones and creating an industrial chain, value chain and logistics chain featuring closer integration, stronger drive and wider benefit.
Li also called upon the two sides to boost trade and investment liberalization and facilitation by strengthening customs cooperation and speeding up logistics, and to promote cooperation in the fields of small and medium-sized enterprises.
The Chinese premier urged the two sides to expand financing channels to support China-CEEC cooperation.
In the speech, Li announced the establishment of China-CEEC Inter-Bank Association and the second phase of China-Central and Eastern Europe Investment Cooperation Fund.
The China Development Bank will provide an equivalent amount of 2 billion euros (2.4 billion U.S. dollars) as development-oriented financial cooperation loans for the inter-bank association, Li said.
Meanwhile, the Chinese premier said the second phase of the investment cooperation fund that totaled 1 billion dollars will be mainly invested in Central and Eastern Europe.
China supports commercial and development financial institutions to provide finance for bilateral cooperation projects and supports the two sides to conduct renminbi-denominated financing business for their cooperation projects, Li said.
China's economy has been transformed from a phase of high-speed growth to high-quality development, and this will surely create opportunities for all countries in the world including the CEEC in terms of bigger market, stronger growth, more investment and cooperation, Li said.
The premier boiled his proposals down to five initiatives that also include spurs to cultural and people-to-people exchanges while attending the sixth meeting of heads of government of China and 16 CEE countries.
Li said the key to the fast development of the 16 1 cooperation is to apply the principle of equality and consultation, mutual benefit, openness and inclusiveness, and innovation.
The 16 1 cooperation is not a geopolitical tool, but an incubator for pragmatic trans-regional cooperation, said Li, adding that the cooperation is conducive to the balanced development of China-EU relations.