Speech at the Eighth Summit of Heads of Government of China and Central and Eastern European Countries
H.E. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
Dubrovnik, 12 April 2019
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic,
It gives me great pleasure to join you in Dubrovnik, known as the Pearl of the Adriatic. Let me first express, on behalf of the Chinese government, sincere appreciation to the host country Croatia and Prime Minister Plenkovic for the thoughtful preparations and arrangements made for the summit. I wish to welcome Greece joining as a full-fledged participant of China-CEEC cooperation, and welcome Austria, Belarus, the European Union, Switzerland and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to the summit as observers.
China-EU relations are now showing a good momentum. Not long ago, President Xi Jinping paid a successful visit to three European countries, lending fresh impetus to deepening China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. Thanks to the joint efforts of all parties involved, 16+1 cooperation, as an important component of overall China-Europe relations, has steadily moved forward and evolved into an open and inclusive platform for cross-regional cooperation of mutual benefit. It has played a positive role in boosting the economic growth of participating countries, improving their people’s wellbeing and advancing China-Europe relations as a whole.
New and encouraging progress was made in China-CEEC cooperation last year. Trade between China and the CEE countries saw substantial growth. Landmark projects such as the Budapest-Belgrade railway and the Peljesac Bridge in Croatia made new progress. The Mozura wind farm, a Montenegro-China-Malta trilateral project, is well underway. A new China-Europe freight train service was launched from Mannheim to Chongqing via Poland. Over 1.4 million visits were made by Chinese tourists to the CEE countries, and people from the CEE countries made 350,000 trips to China. Cooperation in other areas saw similar growth, and cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been moving forward smoothly.
China-CEEC cooperation is a good example of cross-regional and multilateral cooperation in the era of globalization. It builds on the economic similarity and complementarity of the participating countries, and is consistent with the trend of economic globalization and free trade. Cooperation platforms like this abound in the world. Our cooperation, which is results-oriented, meets the development needs of all participating countries.
In pursuing China-CEEC cooperation, we have established a framework with the CEE countries in the driver’s seat. We have followed the principle of mutual respect and equality, been sensitive to each other’s major concerns, and taken into full account the realities of the countries concerned in making cooperation plans and identifying projects. This approach has helped ensure that our cooperation truly delivers, and as a result, the China-CEEC framework has attracted wide participation and strong support.
Embracing the spirit of openness and inclusiveness, we have adhered to internationally recognized rules, including those of the WTO and followed EU laws and regulations in China-CEEC cooperation, and respected the responsibilities and obligations of the CEE countries which are also EU members.
In pursuing China-CEEC cooperation, we have given equal importance to trade and investment, and advanced economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges in parallel. The China-CEEC cooperation has promoted the common development of all participating countries, and contributed to more balanced development in Europe and European integration, providing an important underpinning for all-round cooperation between China and Europe.
Our world is undergoing profound and complex changes, yet peace and development remain the theme of our time. While a new round of technological and industrial revolution brings new opportunities for development, we are also faced with the challenges of slowing growth, rising protectionism and unilateralism, and an array of regional hotspot issues, giving rise to even greater instability and uncertainty. Major international institutions have recently revised downward their global growth forecasts.
Under these new circumstances, our common interests have been growing and so has our mutual need. By working together to broaden and upgrade China-CEEC cooperation, we will not just bring greater benefits to the people of China and CEE countries, but also boost the steady growth of the world economy.
With this larger context in mind, the theme of our summit this year: Building New Bridges Through Openness, Innovation and Partnership is particularly focused and relevant.
– We need to build the bridges through greater openness. China-CEEC cooperation is a catalyst for open cooperation. It is not just about two-way opening of markets between China and the CEE countries, but also about being open to the EU and to countries outside the region. China is a beneficiary of reform and opening-up. The just-adopted Foreign Investment Law has sent a clear signal of China’s commitment to opening-up at a higher level. This will help create a well-regulated and law-based business environment for CEE enterprises in making investments in China. Likewise, we hope CEE countries could provide more convenience for the import of medium and high-end Chinese products such as in the electronics, communications and clean energy sectors.
– We need to build the bridges through unimpeded innovation. China-CEEC cooperation, which started small but developed into a maturing mechanism in just seven years, is an act of innovation in itself. It has built a new platform for cross-regional, multi-party cooperation, and created a new channel for China-Europe cooperation. It has explored new areas of practical cooperation, and established over 20 mechanisms in areas from economy and trade to cultural and people-to-people links, and from government cooperation to subnational exchanges, with new contents and forms of cooperation added every year. In particular, science, technology and innovation have become new highlights of cooperation, and third-party cooperation with the EU has generated benefits to all parties and demonstrated a broad prospect.
– We need to build the bridges through stronger partnership. China-CEEC cooperation is a robust practice of multilateralism. By building closer partnership between China and the CEE countries, it has served as a model of harmonious co-existence, inclusive development and win-win cooperation among countries with different social systems, cultural traditions and levels of development. The China-CEEC Global Partnership Center to be inaugurated later today aims to provide policy and legal advice and intellectual support for enterprises from both sides in expanding trade and investment cooperation. We welcome the active participation of academic institutions from CEE countries and the EU in the center’s activities.
I look forward to hearing your insights and building greater common understanding with you on further deepening our practical cooperation.