BUDAPEST — Premier Li Keqiang on Nov 27 proposed five initiatives to further advance 16+1 cooperation while addressing the sixth meeting of heads of government of China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries in Budapest, Hungary.
Premier 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 Premier Li, adding that the cooperation is conducive to the balanced development of China-EU relations.
He proposed five initiatives to further promote cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC).
First, he called on the two sides to expand economic and trade scale, and boost trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.
China is willing to import more high-quality agricultural products from the CEE countries to promote the balanced development of bilateral trade as well as meet the diversified demands of China’s domestic market, Premier Li said.
Second, he encouraged the countries to speed up major projects on connectivity, promoting links through land, sea, air and the Internet.
China hopes to see more rail lines be launched by China Railway Express and more direct flights between China and Europe and would like to set up a logistic center in the CEE region, Premier Li said.
Third, the Premier suggested that the two sides probe into cooperation modes such as industrial parks in the areas of production capacity, energy, logistics and agriculture.
China proposes implementing a 16+1 scientific partner plan and welcomes all CEE enterprises to participate in the “Made in China 2025” strategy, a blueprint for upgrading the country’s manufacturing sector, said the premier.
Fourth, Premier Li called for strong financial support for the 16+1 cooperation. He announced the establishment of China-CEEC Inter-Bank Association and the second phase of China-CEEC Investment Cooperation Fund in a keynote speech to the seventh China-CEEC Economic and Trade Forum held earlier on Nov 27.
Fifth, he called on the countries to conduct more cultural and people-to-people exchanges, enhance cooperation on tourism, and start cooperation between youths, in areas of traditional Chinese medicine, sports and protection of women and children.
He proposed making 2018 the year of China-CEEC local cooperation.
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the launching of 16+1 cooperation. Premier Li said in his speech that the 16+1 cooperation has been growing in the past five years, becoming an influential trans-regional mechanism with substantial projects and cooperation results.
Stressing that the 16+1 cooperation does not mean to add up the 16 bilateral ties simply, Premier Li said he believed that with the joint efforts of the 17 countries, the 16+1 cooperation will yield more results and reach a new level.
Leaders of the 16 CEE countries spoke highly of Premier Li’s initiatives, saying that the fruitful results of cooperation in the past five years is a testimony to the willingness of all countries to strengthen cooperation and the growing importance of the mechanism.
They vowed to make full use of the platform to promote 16+1 cooperation, implement their consensus on cooperation, explore new potentials, strengthen practical cooperation in such fields as connectivity, finance, e-commerce, agriculture, logistics, small and medium-sized enterprises, tourism and culture, and push forward their relations with China as well as EU-China ties in order to achieve win-win results.
After the meeting, the leaders witnessed the signing of a batch of cooperation documents on the Belt and Road Initiative, connectivity, industrial capacity cooperation, infrastructure, finance, quality inspection and culture.
Premier Li arrived in Budapest on Nov 26 for an official visit to Hungary and for the sixth meeting of heads of government of China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries.