Xi Jinping Presides over China-CEEC Summit and Delivers a Keynote Speech
Keeping up the Momentum and Working Together for A New Chapter in China-CEEC Cooperation

On February 9, 2021, President Xi Jinping presided over the China-Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) Summit in Beijing via video link. Heads of state and government and high-level representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Albania, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, North Macedonia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and other CEE countries attended the meeting. Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech entitled "Keeping up the Momentum and Working Together for A New Chapter in China-CEEC Cooperation". Xi Jinping stressed that the cooperation between China and CEE countries adheres to the principles of extensive consultation and joint contribution, real results and balance, openness and inclusiveness, and an innovative and pioneering spirit, which is a vivid practice of multilateralism and an important part of China-EU relations. China is willing to work with CEE countries to follow the general trend of the times, achieve a higher level of common development and mutual benefit and win-win results, and work together to promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Xi Jinping pointed out in his speech that it has been nine years since cooperation between China and CEEC started. Nine years on, China-CEEC cooperation has stood the test of time and intricate changes in the international landscape. It has developed some principles that are reflective of its distinctive features and accepted by all parties.

First, making decisions through consultation. China-CEEC cooperation is based on mutual respect and has no political strings attached. All countries involved, regardless of their size, are equal partners in a cooperation mechanism featuring extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. The two sides have been mindful of each other's concerns.

Second, delivering benefits to all cooperation partners. With its focus on real results, China and CEE countries promote more balanced cooperation, pursue both economic cooperation and cultural exchanges, and place equal importance on trade and investment. The trade between China and CEE countries is nearly 85 percent bigger than nine years ago. The number of mutual tourist visits has grown nearly five times. The China-Europe Railway Express has reached most of the CEE countries. Impressive progress has been made in a number of cooperation projects.

Third, pursuing common development through openness and inclusiveness. China and CEE countries have drawn on each other's strengths through mutual learning, and narrowed differences and resolved disagreements through consultation and cooperation. The two sides have followed widely-accepted international rules, conformed to market principles, welcomed the participation of other countries and international organizations in the cooperation to achieve win-win results.

Fourth, achieving bigger growth through innovation. 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 where all countries have signed agreements on Belt and Road cooperation.

Xi Jinping pointed out that we are living in challenging times. In the face of such unprecedented challenges, countries must come together and respond with solidarity and coordination like never before. Xi Jinping put forward four suggestions on the cooperation and development between China and CEE countries under the new situation:

First, we need to tackle COVID-19 head on and boost confidence in cooperation to tide over the tough times. Our two sides could enhance joint response and experience sharing on prevention and treatment, explore cooperation on traditional medicine, and scale up public health and medical cooperation. These efforts will contribute to a global community of health for all. China is willing to actively consider the vaccine cooperation needs of CEE countries. The two sides need to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, coordinate COVID response and economic and social development, resume travels and economic activities in a prudent and orderly manner, and keep industrial and supply chains stable.

Second, we need to focus on connectivity and develop smooth avenues of cooperation for interconnected development. We need to keep improving connectivity, pursue high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, speed up such major projects as the Budapest-Belgrade Railway, and continue to support the development of the China-Europe Railway Express. We should deepen customs cooperation to ensure trade security and faster clearance and explore cooperation on a pilot basis under the "Smart Customs, Smart Borders and Smart Connectivity" Initiative.

Third, we need to aim for concrete results and increase cooperation outcomes that benefit both sides. China intends to import, in the coming five years, more than 170 billion U.S. dollars of goods from CEE countries. We need to speed up the entry of agri-food products from CEE countries into China in a bid to double CEE countries' agricultural exports to China and raise two-way agricultural trade by 50 percent over the next five years. China proposes setting up a farm produce wholesale market in the CEE region. We need to continue to develop demonstration zones and industrial parks for China-CEEC business cooperation in cities like Ningbo and Cangzhou. We also need to enhance cultural exchanges and take the opportunity of the Beijing Winter Olympics to strengthen cooperation in the sports field.

Fourth, we need to focus on green development and forge drivers of future-oriented cooperation. We need to steadfastly advance international cooperation on climate change and take the China-CEEC Year of Green Development and Environmental Protection as an opportunity to deepen exchange and cooperation in green economy, clean energy and other related areas. China proposes setting up a China-CEEC STI Research Center and holding a China-CEEC Forum for Young S&T Talents. We need to widen our cooperation on the digital economy, e-commerce and the health sector and support setting up a China-CEEC dialogue mechanism on e-commerce cooperation and a China-CEEC alliance in the public health industry.

Xi Jinping concluded that China will quicken its pace in fostering a new development paradigm, continue to open its door wider, and take a more active part in bilateral, multilateral and regional cooperation that delivers higher levels of mutual benefit for all. China's continued development and opening-up will inject powerful impetus into global economic recovery and growth, and broaden the horizons for China-CEEC cooperation. China is ready to work with CEE countries to build on new consensus and draw a new blueprint for China-CEEC cooperation, support respective development through cooperation, and enrich the China-CEEC comprehensive strategic partnership, in order to build an open world economy and a new type of international relationship.

The participants spoke highly of the results of CEEC-China cooperation. They believe this important cross-regional cooperation mechanism which promoted infrastructure construction and economic and social development of CEE countries, is in line with the common interests of all. It not only expands the EU-China cooperation, but also brings mutual benefit and win-win results. Against the backdrop of raging pandemic and world economic recession, it is of great significance that President Xi Jinping initiated and chaired this summit, which will become a new milestone of China-CEEC cooperation. All parties are ready to participate in this cooperation to join hands in fighting against the pandemic, promote economic recovery, adhere to multilateralism and jointly tackle all kinds of global challenges. The participants appreciate China's important contribution to the international anti-pandemic cooperation and the commitment made by President Xi Jinping to making Chinese vaccines a global public good, and wish to enhance cooperation with China on vaccines and public health. All parties agree with the proposals of practical cooperation put forward by President Xi Jinping and are ready to build the Belt and Road initiative, expand their export to China, welcome more investment from Chinese enterprises, promote cooperation on connectivity, scientific and technological innovation, digital economy and green development, facilitate personnel exchanges and deepen cultural communication, in order to achieve more cooperation results and bring more benefits to people of all countries.

The leaders of all countries extended festive greetings to the Chinese people and wished them a happy Chinese Lunar New Year and good luck in the Year of the Ox.

Observers from Austria, Belarus, the EU, Switzerland and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development attended the Forum.

The 2021 Cooperation between China and CEEC Beijing List of Activities and the Outcome List of China-CEEC Summit were released at the summit.

Ding Xuexiang, Yang Jiechi, Wang Yi, He Lifeng and others attended the meeting.

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