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16+1 mechanism injects impetus into China-CEE cooperation

Xinhua, December 17, 2014 Adjust font size:

Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday attended the third leaders' meeting of China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries in Belgrade, Serbia, outlining a roadmap for future cooperation.

While meeting with leaders from 16 CEE countries, Li pledged an investment fund of 3 billion U.S. dollars to facilitate financing in the cash-strapped Central and Eastern Europe, vowing to expand cooperation in extensive areas ranging from infrastructure to energy.

The 16+1 mechanism has injected new impetus into bilateral ties and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Established in Warsaw in 2012 and developed greatly after the second China-CEE leaders's meeting in Bucharest last year, the new cooperation platform has enormously boosted the two sides' political will for cooperation.

Considering their geographic importance, Central and Eastern Europe marks an essential link in China's Silk Road initiative, and such connectivity will in turn help improve these countries' infrastructure and boost their economic growth.

China and other investors are mostly viewed as a blessing for CEE countries, which were alerted by the 2008 economic crisis to their over-reliance on Western Europe.

The 16+1 cooperation mechanism serves as an engine for CEE countries to vitalize their sluggish economy and achieve recovery.

The increasingly closer economic ties between China and these countries have brought bilateral trade volume to a new high of 50 billion U.S. dollars from January to October this year, marking a year-on-year increase of 10.1 percent.

Chinese enterprises have invested more than 5 billion dollars in the CEE region covering such fields as machinery, chemical industry and telecommunications.

Among 38 cooperation projects that were inked at the Bucharest summit, 80 percent has been implemented. Projects in the infrastructure construction of bridges, power stations and expressways proceed smoothly.

Not only did the new platform expand mutually beneficial cooperation, but it also forged a new engine to deepen the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership featuring mutual benefits and win-win results.

Some in the European Union might be wary of the 16+1 dialogue, viewing it as detrimental to overall China-EU relations. These speculations, however, are a tale of a tub.

In fact, 11 of the 16 CEE countries have joined the EU and the other five also set a target for membership. The China-CEE countries cooperation serves as stimulus to the China-EU relations rather than a stumbling block.

Most CEE countries, plagued by a floundering economy, urgently need expanding investment to promote economic growth, a fundamental drive for them to join the EU.

The 16+1 mechanism is a suitable platform to help boost their economy and in turn facilitates their entry into the 28-member bloc, thus boosting the European integration process.

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