China, CEE countries eye land-sea express passage to speed up delivery
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (2nd R) meets with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic (2nd L), Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (R) and Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski in Belgrade, Serbia, Dec 17, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]
BELGRADE -- China and three Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries on Wednesday agreed to build a land-sea express passage linking a Greek port and the landlocked Hungary to speed up transportation between China and Europe.
The consensus was reached when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with his counterparts from Serbia, Hungary and Macedonia one day after the leaders' meeting between China and 16 CEE countries in Belgrade.
Li said the land-sea express route will be "an extension and upgraded version" of the planned Hungary-Serbia railway running through Belgrade and Budapest to connect China.
It will link the Greek sea port of Piraeus in the south and Budapest in the north, stringing the Macedonian capital of Skopje and Belgrade, he said.
Li and his Serbian and Hungarian counterparts signed a memorandum of understanding on joint construction of the Hungary-Serbia railway. He also inked agreements on customs clearance facilitation with three CEE countries' leaders.
Li added that the Greek side has also expressed its willingness to sign the customs clearance treaty with China at an early date.
The land-sea passage, upon its completion, will open up a new convenient channel for the import and export of products between China and Europe, said the premier, adding that more express lanes between his country and the European Union (EU), China's largest trade partner, should be built to boost the cooperation between them.
"The route is expected to elevate the level of the regional transportation and logistics, speed up the flow of personnel, products, capital and technologies," he said. "It will be good news for the balanced development of the overall Europe and also for the speeding up of the European integration."
"The land-sea express passage will further link the Mediterranean and the Danube," Li added.
Meanwhile, the Chinese premier stressed that to promote trade liberation and investment facilitation is the right remedy for coping with the downward pressure as the world economic recovery is still sluggish.
When constructing the route, all sides should uphold the principle of "joint construction and sharing" and decide issues regarding cooperation model and capital support through negotiation on an equal footing, Li said.
"It should be a priority to start the construction of the Hungary-Serbia railway and its extension line as soon as possible, " Li added.
He also said that China welcomes countries along the passage to join the construction of the new channel, linking China, CEE countries and the whole Europe through land-sea transportation.
China, Li said, is expected to strengthen cooperation with the EU and other sides in an appropriate manner so as to facilitate the China-Europe mutually beneficial cooperation.
Prime ministers of Serbia, Hungary and Macedonia said that the new land-sea express passage will "forcefully promote the cooperation between Europe and China and the regional development, as well as benefit the local people."
They said the route will enhance regional connectivity and is in line with the interests of the region as well as the EU and the whole Europe.