Belgrade 2014

On December 16, 2014, the third meeting of Heads of Government of China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) was held in Belgrade. The leaders of 16 Central and Eastern European countries participated in the meeting.

Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia jointly hosted the meeting. All participating parties conducted in-depth discussions and reached broad consensus on further expanding China-CEEC cooperation.

In his speech, Li Keqiang said that since we successfully held a meeting and issued the “Bucharest Outline” last year, China and the CEEC have enjoyed closer exchanges and witnessed more active cooperation in various fields.

At present, the international political and economic situation is undergoing profound and complex changes, but peace and development remain the trend of the times. China will unswervingly pursue the road of peaceful development and promote the opening-up strategy of mutual benefits and win-win results, and safeguard world peace and regional stability.

China is willing to work with all the countries in the world, including the CEEC, to promote sustained development, prosperity and stability of the world.

Li Keqiang put forward five proposals for further promoting China-CEEC cooperation in an in-depth manner:

First, create new highlights in the cooperation between China and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

China and the CEE should give full play to each other’s complementary advantages, take infrastructure construction as the traction, productive transformation cooperation as the key, and financial cooperation as the foundation, and take the concerns of all sides into full consideration, so as to promote cooperation constantly for new progress.

Second, construct a new corridor of connectivity. The CEEC possess natural and good harbors, which can exert huge transport effect if linked with traffic arteries including railways and highways.

Both sides can rely on the Hungary-Serbia Railway, the Piraeus Port of Greece and others to create a new channel of rail-sea intermodal transportation between Asia andEurope. Both sides should improve the software environment while completing the hardware facilities. China is willing to work with the CEEC to promote cooperation in facilitating customs clearance.

Third, expand new space for industrial cooperation. China’s high capacity in manufacturing equipment of high-speed railways, nuclear power and telecommunications as well as in producing raw materials including steel, cement and plate glass should be combined with the enormous demands of the CEEC’s large-scale projects.

China encourages its domestic enterprises to set up factories in the CEEC and actively participate in the co-construction of various industrial parks to promote local employment as well as the upgrading and transformation of Chinese industries.

Fourth, set up a new framework of investment and financing cooperation. China has decided to establish a China-CEE investment and financing cooperation framework to reach three goals: first, to encourage the CEEC to keep making good use of the 10 Billion USD Special-Purpose Loan.

China will, based on the actual condition of the project, provide loans in a more preferential manner to reduce the financing cost; second, to set up a 3-billion-USD investment fund and launch the 1-billion-USD second phase of the China-CEE Investment Cooperation Fund; and third, to encourage businesses and financial institutions from the CEEC to issue RMB securities in China and to explore ways to set up the RMB Cooperation Fund in the CEE.

Fifth, expand new fields of people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Both sides should strengthen exchanges in such fields as tourism, science and technology, culture, education, health care, youth, women, and media, exquisitely design activities for the 2015 China-CEEC Tourist Year, and support the establishment of the Scholar andThink-TankCenter.

I hope that all sides continue to simplify visa procedures to facilitate personnel exchanges. China will double the places of international students from the CEEC next year on the current basis to provide support of human resources and education for the bilateral cooperation.

Li Keqiang stressed that China and Europeare natural cooperation partners and have no conflicts of fundamental interests. China firmly supports the European integration and Euro’s stability, and is pleased to see a more united, prosperous, and stableEurope. The China-CEEC cooperation is not only beneficial to the two sides but also conducive to the development balance withinEurope, and will play an important role for the process of European integration.

The leaders of the CEEC present at the meeting fully agreed to Li Keqiang’s cooperation proposals. They said that the CEEC and  China are traditionally friendly cooperative partners, and the bilateral cooperation features mutual benefit and win-win outcome and has made important progress, contributing not only to economic growth, employment expansion, and livelihood improvement of the countries in the region, but also to the development of the relationship between the European Union (EU) and  China.

The CEEC are willing to work with China to further improve the cooperative mechanism, expand the scale of cooperation with the focus on deepening cooperation in such fields as economy and trade, investment, infrastructure construction, energy, finance, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges, jointly advance the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt, so as to better benefit the two peoples and promote the EU-China relationship for even greater development.

After the meeting, China and the 16 Central and Eastern European countries jointly issued the Belgrade Guideline for China-CEEC cooperation.

In the guidelines the following key elements are incorporated: holding a Fourth China-CEEC Meeting of Heads of Government in 2015, as well as improving infrastructure connectivity, rail traffic between China and Europe, faster customs clearance procedures, creating an China-CEEC Association on transport and infrastructure cooperation in Serbia.

Development of a plan for the establishment of a China-CEEC Logistics Cooperation Association and a Tink-Tank Center should also be priority. A High-level meeting is scheduled in Riga, Latvia on the topic of transport, logistics and trade routes.

The Belgrade guidelines also include elements such as improving civil aviation, in particular direct flights between CEEC and China; creating a 16 + 1 Business Council in Warsaw, Poland and a Secretariat of the Investment Agencies of the CEECs.

It is noted that Bulgaria should be supported in order to establish an Association for Cooperation in Agriculture in Sofia in 2015; Romania should be supported in the establishment of the Center for Cooperation in Energy Projects; Hungary should be supported in establishing China-CEEC Association of Tourism Promotion Agencies and Businesses.