Foreign Affairs
Premier's trips bear fruit
Last Updated: 2013-12-01 01:09 | China Daily
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Premier Li Keqiang said his trips to Romania and Uzbekistan, where he attended two multilateral meetings, were fruitful and pushed forward China's opening-up toward Central and Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.

Upon his Friday night departure from Tashkent, Li told reporters his five-day trip has achieved fruitful results and has increased mutual political trust between China and countries in the regions.

The Chinese premier kicked off his trip last Monday, attending a leaders' meeting of China and Central and Eastern European countries in the Romanian capital of Bucharest before paying a state visit to the country. He then attended a prime ministers' meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.

A string of trade, cultural and transport pacts were signed, under which China's high-speed railway, nuclear power and wind plant technologies are expected to help the countries upgrade their infrastructures.

The SCO countries have also pledged to enhance their anti-terrorism cooperation and improve regional connectivity.

Li said China and CEE countries are at similar development stages, share comparable national incomes and have complementary economies. Trade between the region and China is, however, only equivalent to one-10th of China-EU trade, despite its big proportion of Europe's area and population, which has left "large room for cooperation".

During the trip, CEE countries showed interest in enhancing cooperation in infrastructure construction, an area in which China owns relatively mature technology and is able to provide relatively advanced large-scale equipment at low prices.

"The trade is mutually beneficial and has win-win results," Li said.

"It helps China reduce excess capacity and optimize economic structure, and is conducive to the balanced development of Europe."

At the SCO prime ministers' meeting, Li said strengthening cooperation with the SCO countries is part of China's strategy to open up its western regions, which will boost development in western China and narrow the regional development gap.

In addition, maintaining a harmonious relationship with western neighbors will also enable China to enjoy stable surroundings and reinforce security and anti-terrorism cooperation, he said.

"China's reform and opening-up began 35 years ago in the southeastern coastal areas," Li said.

"And now its westward opening-up initiative has strategic importance for China's comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development.

"We're working for our national interest and win-win cooperation with other countries. But we're also making efforts to ensure a better life for the Chinese people, which can contribute to a peaceful world."

China Institute of International Studies vice-director Ruan Zongze said China's growing engagement with countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia is essential to its China-Europe strategy to cope with the United States' increasing presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Cui Hongjian, director of European studies at the China Institute of International Studies, noted China has become a pragmatic choice of partners for the CEE countries. They can expect little help from Western Europe amid the debt crisis, and the withdrawal of existing investment from Western Europe has worsened the situation.

"China came to fill in the gap right on time by offering a package of investment, tourism and infrastructure construction with relatively advanced technologies at a reasonable price," Cui said.

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