Premier Li Keqiang inspects the guard of honor in a farewell ceremony held for him at the airport in Moscow, Russia, Nov 9, 2016. Premier Li returned to Beijing on Nov 9 after paying official visits to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Russia. [Photo/Xinhua]
MOSCOW — Premier Li Keqiang has concluded his week-long Eurasian trip with a series of proposals to promote regional cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries as well as among members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Premier Li’s proposals mark China’s efforts to inject new impetus into regional cooperation, showing the importance China attaches to the role of regional mechanisms as well as its determination to enhance cooperation and safeguard regional peace and stability.
Observers hold that China has developed a pattern of regional cooperation different from those by the West, which better meets the interests of the countries concerned, rendering it a comparative advantage in carrying out more mutually beneficial and win-win regional cooperation.
SIX-PRONGED PROPOSAL TO SPEED UP SCO DEVELOPMENT
The SCO represents a new type of regional cooperation initiatives that takes into full consideration the realities of relevant countries with an aim to realize mutual benefits on the basis of equality, said Sun Zhuangzhi, secretary-general of the SCO Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Fifteen years after its founding, the China-initiated SCO has borne rich fruits in trade, security cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, said Sun, adding that in the Central Asian region, the SCO role has proved irreplaceable in maintaining stability and significant to driving growth.
During the 15th SCO Prime Ministers’ Meeting held in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, Premier Li made a six-pronged proposal to enhance cooperation within SCO in a wide range of fields including security, economic development and production capacity.
On security, the Premier urged all members to observe a concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, suggesting deepening information exchanges and cooperation in law enforcement so as to ensure the security of peoples, institutions, enterprises and personnel of SCO members.
As for the alignment of their development strategies, Premier Li called for more efforts to promote the coordination and dovetailing of economic policies, citing the growing synergy between China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) as an example.
As to enhancing production capacity cooperation, Premier Li said China is ready to join efforts to make this a pillar of regional trade cooperation. Major cooperation projects, including a power plant in Uzbekistan, an oil refinery in Kyrgyzstan, a cement plant in Tajikistan and a China-Uzbekistan industrial park, are carrying on smoothly, Premier Li added.
Premier Li added that China is ready to smooth e-commerce customs clearance, strengthen logistics support, and strengthen cooperation in environmental technology and building green economies.
Regarding regional financing, the Premier urged all member states to take full use of regional platforms like the SCO Interbank Consortium, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund and the BRICS New Development Bank, among others.
For people-to-people exchanges, Premier Li pledged more scholarships for SCO members to study in China.
For their parts, leaders of SCO member states vowed to maintain regional security and stability and propel regional economic cooperation.
ADDING FRESH IMPETUS TO CHINA-CEE TIES
China and the CEE have developed a pattern of regional cooperation that is different from those led by the West. CEE countries have witnessed tangible benefits from their relations with China and showed growing interest in further boosting ties.
During his stay in Latvia, Premier Li and CEE leaders agreed to increase people-to-people exchanges in a bid to strengthen ties.
Cooperation between China and the CEE countries, dubbed the “16+1 cooperation”, has maintained sound growth over the past four years, becoming a new, important engine for China-Europe ties, said ambassador Yang Yanyi, head of the Chinese Mission to the European Union (EU).
She said the “16+1 cooperation”, a platform jointly created in April 2012 by China and CEE countries to deepen ties, complements the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership.
China, the world’s second-largest economy, and the CEE countries, many of them emerging markets seeking foreign investment to upgrade local infrastructure, are highly complementary.
To find synergy between China’s enterprises and investors wishing to “go global” and the CEE countries where demands for inbound investment are steadily rising, will provide new opportunities for the “16+1 cooperation”, according to Yang.
The win-win cooperation between China and the 16 CEE countries over the past four years was the result of consultations to meet the interests of all, Yang said, noting that existing projects were mostly CEE-proposed.
The “16+1 cooperation” is increasingly maturing, advancing the China-CEE cooperation in various areas, Yang said, adding that the Medium-Term Agenda for Cooperation adopted during last year’s China-CEE summit in Suzhou, has set the roadmap for future cooperation.
CONSTRUCTIVE ROLE IN PROMOTING REGIONAL COOPERATION
Besides the SCO and China-CEE, China is also playing a constructive role in many other international bodies, such as the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries as well as the summit between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Last month in Macao, Premier Li put forward 18 new measures to boost relations with Portuguese-speaking countries (PSCs) in the next three years.
China will provide at least 4 billion yuan (almost $600 million) in aid and preferential loans to PSCs in Asia and Africa, Premier Li said.
At least half of the aid is intended to help develop agriculture, facilitate trade and investment, prevent and control malaria, and conduct research on traditional medicine in these countries. The other half in preferential loans is largely for infrastructure development.
China has also pledged more medical teams, training programs and government scholarships, as well as help in building marine meteorological facilities to respond to disasters and climate change.
As for cooperation between China and ASEAN, China has vowed to form tight-knit ties with Southeast Asian nations.
“If we say the past 25 years were a period of growth for the China-ASEAN relations, the upcoming 25 years will be a period of maturity, facing new opportunities as well as new challenges,” Premier Li told the 19th China-ASEAN summit in September.
China established a dialogue relationship with ASEAN in 1991. It was the first country to ink the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, to become ASEAN’s strategic partner, to voice support for the protocol of the treaty of Southeast Asia nuclear weapon free zone, and to start free trade negotiations with ASEAN.
“With full consideration of the reality on the ground of all countries, China is striving to achieve mutual benefits with them, especially those smaller ones through those cooperation,” said Sun.