Remarks at the Meeting of Heads of Government of China and Central and Eastern European Countries
Bucharest, 26 November 2013
Prime Minister Victor Ponta,
Good morning! It gives me great pleasure to meet with leaders of the central and eastern European countries (CEECs) in this beautiful city of Bucharest. Let me begin by thanking Prime Minister Ponta and the Romanian government for their meticulous preparations and thoughtful arrangements for the meeting. I look forward to an in-depth discussion with you to chart the future course of our cooperation.
The international situation today remains complex. Though the trend towards world multi-polarity and economic globalization is gaining momentum, and some positive signs of economic recovery have emerged, uncertainties and destabilizing factors still exist. Under these conditions, it is crucial for all countries, be it developed ones and developing ones or emerging markets, to enhance policy coordination and mutually beneficial cooperation to ensure stable recovery. While maintaining a steady growth of its own economy, China is ready to work closely with all other countries in the spirit of solidarity to boost recovery of the global economy.
China and the CEE countries are all in a crucial stage of the growth mode transformation. With a traditional friendship and with no fundamental conflict of interests between us, there is a solid foundation for us to expand cooperation. Over the past few years, China and the CEE countries have deepened political mutual trust and enhanced cultural and people-to-people exchanges. And our economic cooperation and trade have withstood the impact of the international financial crisis and the European debt issue. Last year, trade between China and the CEE countries exceeded US$50 billion. The China-CEEC meeting of heads of government has served as a good platform for cooperation. As we speak, a large number of business leaders, with an unmatched level of interest in cooperation, are gathered at the third China-CEEC Economic and Trade Forum.
Here, I wish to propose a three-principle strategic framework for our cooperation in six areas with a view to bringing our cooperation to a new height.
The following are the three principles we should observe:
First, equality and mutual respect. The CEE countries were among the first to establish diplomatic ties with New China and are old friends of the Chinese people. China lives by the principle of equality of all countries, big or small, and has never wavered in its commitment to the principle. We stand ready to work with the CEE countries to uphold the principles of mutual respect, mutual understanding and mutual support. We should respect each other’s independent choice of development path and the territorial integrity and sovereign independence of all countries, and accommodate each other’s core interests and major concerns. As most of us have gone through the transition from a planned economy to a market economy, there is much experience gained from practice that we can share. And the friendship and trust between us deserve our special care.
Second, mutual benefit and common development. China and the CEE countries are at a similar stage of development with a similar level of per capita income. As emerging markets, we all face the imminent task of developing the economy and improving people’s lives. We each have much to offer the other side and there is a huge potential for cooperation. Thanks to the reform and opening-up in the past 30-odd years, China has now in place a full-fledged industrial system, strong capabilities for the development of infrastructure and sufficient capital. The CEE countries, on the other hand, boast a solid foundation in science, technology and education, quality agriculture produce, well-developed manufacturing industry and service sector, and a big market for infrastructure investment. Hence, it serves everyone’s interests for China and 16 CEE countries to nurture growth areas of trade and investment and launch big cooperation projects. As the saying goes, hand in hand, we walk faster. As long as we enhance exchanges and draw on each other’s strengths, we will achieve common development and prosperity.
Third, common progress for China and Europe by moving toward each other. The CEE countries are an important part of Europe, and China-CEEC relations an important component of China-Europe relations. Europe is an important pole in the world and a vital force for world peace and stability. China supports the European integration process, understands CEE countries’ intent to join the EU and wishes to see a united, prosperous and growing Europe. This is conducive to world peace and in keeping with the trend towards world multi-polarity and diversified civilizations. A few days ago, Chinese and EU leaders jointly issued the China-EU 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation in Beijing, mapping out a blueprint for future China-EU cooperation. This has fostered a sound environment for cooperation between China and the CEE countries. The transparent, open and inclusive cooperation between us serves the interests of China and the CEE countries and of the growing China-Europe relations and it is consistent with the principle guiding China-EU cooperation. It will play an active and constructive part in deepening China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. A Europe that seeks a balanced development is what China wants to see as balanced economic growth is the only way leading to a dynamic and sustainable development. With China and Europe moving towards each other, China-Europe cooperation will enjoy even brighter prospects.
The following are the six areas in which we should exert ourselves to and make great efforts for:
First, economic cooperation and trade. This is an area we should give top priority in our practical cooperation. The current overall trade volume between China and the 16 countries is still quite modest, and there is a big gap between the trade level and our economic strength and cooperation intent. China will work with all parties to double trade within five years. It is ready to import more quality agricultural products and other marketable goods from the CEE countries, encourage more Chinese tourists to visit Central and Eastern Europe, and address the trade imbalance by various means. China would like to discuss with CEE countries the possibilities of signing an industrial investment framework agreement and encourage enterprises with a strong strength and a good reputation to grow businesses in CEE countries. We wish to give full play to the leading and exemplary role of major cooperation projects, for which China is willing to provide support in funding, technology and equipment, and in which the CEE countries are also expected to take an active part.
Second, mutual connectivity. This will help with a smooth flow of logistics and hence with economic development. The CEE countries face a daunting task of building and upgrading railways, roads, ports and airports. China has leading technologies, complete sets of equipment and rich experience in the construction of transport infrastructure and all these will be offered for a good and reasonable price. Moreover, there is overcapacity in some of these sectors in China. Therefore, there is a mutual need for us to cooperate in this area. We want to take the launching of the Budapest-Belgrade railway as an opportunity to advance connectivity among CEE countries, open new China-Europe land and sea transport routes, explore the possibility of setting up bonded areas and distribution centers along these routes to achieve parallel progress in southern, northern and western Europe, and build new logistics connections between China and Europe as a whole. All this will help us meet the US$1 trillion China-EU trade target by 2020.
Third, green cooperation. To meet the climate challenge and realize sustainable development are common tasks facing China and the CEE countries. In recent years, many CEE countries have worked hard to upgrade their power stations, while in China, nuclear power, hydro power, wind power, photovoltaics and other new energy sources have developed rapidly, and China has developed electrical equipment and technologies advanced by world standards. There is excess capacity in some sectors. The Chinese government supports Chinese enterprises in actively participating in power projects in CEE countries including nuclear power projects, and expects the relevant countries to improve investment environment so that electrical engineering and equipment will become a new highlight in our cooperation.
Fourth, financing channels. Due to the global financial crisis and the European debt issue in recent years, a funding shortage has become a bottleneck impeding economic recovery in CEE countries. To support cooperation with the CEE countries, China has set up a special credit line of US$10 billion, and is ready to work with the financial institutions and enterprises of CEE countries and actively explore flexible and rule-based ways to use this credit line. The US$500 million China-CEEC Investment Cooperation Fund (stage one) has been launched. China has encouraged its financial institutions to launch the stage two of the Fund in due time and welcomes contribution from more CEE countries. China is ready to strengthen financial cooperation with the CEE countries by setting up financial subsidiaries in each other’s countries and signing currency swap and settlement agreements to better serve the real economy.
Fifth, cooperation at the local level. To serve the business community and promote local development is an important objective of our cooperation. There is a strong desire and great potential for China-CEEC cooperation at the provincial, prefectural and municipal levels. To create a solid platform for sub-national cooperation has been our consensus. If we harness the advantages of local exchanges in efficiency and productivity, that will facilitate smooth and effective cooperation between us at the local level. China supports the second China-CEEC Local Leaders’ Meeting to be held next year with a view to more concrete results from local cooperation between China and CEE countries.
Sixth, cultural and people-to-people exchanges. We should capitalize on our valuable traditional friendship and strengthen the bond between our peoples to enhance our practical cooperation. The Chinese side wishes to propose that China-CEEC cultural cooperation forum, education policy dialogue and young leaders’ forum be held on a regular basis. Efforts should be made to ensure the success of the upcoming China-CEEC high-level think-tanks symposium in Beijing and proper arrangements be made for exchange of visits by our journalists to enhance mutual understanding and perception of our peoples. China will work with the CEE countries to provide visa and other facilitation for our people to travel between China and CEE countries as tourists or for work.
Since its inception, the Secretariat for Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries, as the coordinating agency on the Chinese side, has provided strong support and assistance for China-CEEC exchanges and cooperation. China is ready to set up cooperation associations with the CEE countries in various fields to build synergy, take advantage of the cooperation scale and conduct cooperation for the benefit of people. We welcome the active participation of business associations, enterprises, civil organizations and local governments of the CEE countries on the basis of voluntarism and openness to contribute their valuable share to the cooperation.
The recent Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has set out a plan for a comprehensive deepening of China’s reform. The reform in China has entered the deep water zone with many thorny issues to be tackled. We are determined to meet the challenges head on. We have decided to give the market a decisive role in resources allocation and enable the government to better fulfill its due responsibilities so as to further unleash the market vitality and generate greater driving force for development. Faced with grim challenges this year, the Chinese economy has achieved steady progress owing to, in a large measure, the steadfast focus of the government and the tapping of the market potential. Past developments have shown that the greater successes China achieves in its reform and opening-up, the more benefits the world and Europe get from China’s development.
A Chinese proverb reads, “Actions should be taken at the right moment just as a boat should set sail when the tide rises.” The door to the historic opportunity of China-CEEC cooperation is now open and the blueprint of future cooperation is unfolding before us. Let us take this leaders’ meeting as a new starting point, seize the momentum and work together for fresh progress of our cooperation and contribute more to the growth of China-Europe relations and to the prosperity and progress of the world.