China-CEEC cooperation bears fruit, Xi says
President: Jointly fighting pandemic 'most pressing task'
President Xi Jinping on Tuesday lauded the cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries over the past nine years, saying that China is ready to work with CEE countries on vaccine supplies amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Xi made the remarks as he chaired the China-CEEC Summit and delivered the keynote speech via video link in Beijing.
"Fighting the pandemic is currently the most pressing task for us. To complete this task, China will work with CEE countries through solidarity, coordination and cooperation," Xi said.
The two sides can enhance their joint response and sharing of experience in prevention and treatment of COVID-19, explore cooperation on traditional medicine, and scale up public health and medical cooperation, thus contributing to a global community of health for all, he said.
Serbia has received 1 million doses of vaccine from a Chinese company, and there is ongoing cooperation between Hungary and Chinese vaccine companies.
"China will actively consider such cooperation with other CEE countries if there is the need," Xi said.
Since the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism was launched in 2012, it has served the common interests and meets the aspiration for sustainable development of the participating countries, and provides a valuable complement for China-Europe relations.
Trade between China and CEE countries today is 85 percent greater than nine years ago, with China-CEEC trade volume exceeding $100 billion for the first time in 2020. The number of mutual tourist visits has grown by nearly five times.
China and CEE countries have taken steps early on to explore the possibility of aligning cross-regional cooperation with Belt and Road cooperation, making Central and Eastern Europe the first region in which all countries have signed agreements on Belt and Road cooperation, the president said.
The China-Europe Railway Express has reached most of the CEE countries, running more than 30,000 freight services so far, Xi said.
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, China-Europe freight trains have been playing a crucial role in supporting Europe's anti-epidemic fight by opening "green passages" for the transport of important supplies and raw materials.
"With its focus on real results, China-CEEC cooperation has served the purpose of supporting our respective development and bettering the lives of our people," Xi said, noting that impressive progress has been made in a number of cooperation projects, including the Port of Piraeus in Greece, the Smederevo steel plant in Serbia and the Peljesac Bridge in Croatia.
The president announced that in the coming five years, China intends to import more than $170 billion in goods from CEE countries, double CEE countries' agricultural exports to China and raise two-way agricultural trade by 50 percent.
Platforms like the China International Import Expo and the China-CEEC Expo would be better leveraged for China to import more goods from CEE countries, he said.
China and CEE countries share the conviction that openness brings opportunities and inclusiveness ensures diversity, Xi said, and this is the key to the sustained vibrancy of China-CEEC cooperation.
"We have followed widely accepted international rules, conformed to market principles and respected EU standards in our cooperation," he said, referring to the European Union. Xi added that China also welcomes the participation of other countries and international organizations in China-CEEC cooperation.
The president called on China and CEE countries to focus on green development and forge drivers of future-oriented cooperation.
China and CEE countries need to steadfastly advance international cooperation on climate change and jointly implement the Paris Agreement, he said.
Xi also underlined the significance for China and CEE countries of stepping up cooperation in science, technology and innovation, as he urged efforts to widen cooperation on the digital economy, e-commerce and health.
Meeting participants said that CEEC-China cooperation, as an important transregional cooperation mechanism, has promoted infrastructure construction as well as economic and social development in CEE countries.
This conforms to the common interests of all parties and also expanded cooperation between Europe and China, achieving win-win results, they said.
Participants expressed CEE countries' willingness to continue this cooperation, saying that they will work with China to fight the pandemic, promote economic recovery, uphold multilateralism and jointly address global challenges of various kinds.
A plan for China-CEEC cooperation in 2021 and a list of results from the China-CEEC Summit was issued after the meeting.
Vice-Foreign Minister Qin Gang told reporters later on Tuesday that the summit was of the highest level of its kind, demonstrating that China highly values the cooperation.
According to Qin, nearly 90 deals on practical cooperation with a total value of $13 billion were reached during the summit, hitting a record for China-CEEC cooperation. They involve such areas as transportation, infrastructure, finance, agriculture and science and technology.
"The deals reflected the specific needs and expectations of CEE countries," Qin said.
The summit, which offered a precious opportunity for China and CEE countries to overcome difficulties and seek development, is a landmark of the common development of China and CEE countries as well as an example of building a community with a shared future for mankind, he said.
Qin said that most CEE countries have expressed their need for vaccines and China will provide more vaccines to CEE countries and other countries according to its production capability.
Speaking of the goal of importing more than $170 billion in goods from CEE countries, Qin said it shows China's willingness to open its market to those countries and its sincere wish to expand importation of goods.
China welcomes the CEE nations to engage with China to promote goods of excellent quality, and China will create favorable conditions to facilitate their exports, Qin added.