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New era diplomacy to strengthen ties with CEE countries

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-27 07:41

New era diplomacy to strengthen ties with CEE countries

CAI MENG/CHINA DAILY

Editor's Note: Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Hungary and participation in the Sixth China-Central and Eastern Europe Leaders' Meeting from Nov 26-29 are important diplomatic moves after the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which will promote China-CEE cooperation in the framework of"16+1" mechanism. Six scholars share their views on the issue with China Daily. Excerpts follow:

Initiative boosts cooperation

New era diplomacy to strengthen ties with CEE countries

Liu Minru

Over the past five years, China's circle of friends among the Central and Eastern European countries has expanded rapidly. Before 2012, bilateral relations between China and the CEE countries had remained a good but general level.

When China proposed to develop cooperation with the 16 CEE countries through the "16+1"cooperation mechanism, most of the leaders and diplomats from those countries were surprised. What followed was a drastic change in the "wait and see" attitude of the CEE countries. In the initial stage, the huge diversity among the 16 CEE countries was reflected in the attitudes and actions of the officials, diplomats and experts from those countries.

When the general program of the Belt and Road Initiative was made public in March 2015, the 16 CEE countries were viewed as the countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt from China's perspective. On the one hand, thanks to the numerous mutual exchanges under the framework of the 16+1 mechanism, the CEE countries exhibited more and more positive, or at least neutral, attitude toward China. On the other hand, the Belt and Road Initiative's focus on the five main pillars of policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bond made the CEE countries realize that these were also main areas they needed to improve. Of course, there are more opportunities in the fields of infrastructure, trade and financial cooperation.

After the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, the China-CEE cooperation mechanism and the Belt and Road Initiative are playing complementary roles in strengthening the relationship between the two sides.

China's initiative appealed to the CEE countries not only because of its potential to raise investments and profits, and expand markets, but also because of China's development approach, which could provide an alternative development model for developing countries.

Chinese wisdom is blazing a new trail in countries that want to expedite their development while safeguarding their independence.

The Belt and Road Initiative is also an expression of Chinese thoughts on international relations, and demonstrates the Chinese concept on building a community with a shared future for mankind. Therefore, strategic views and practical plans to solve the perception gap between the Chinese and CEE peoples will be critical to the development of the 16+1 cooperation mechanism in the next five years.

The author is an associate researcher at the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau of CPC.

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