Tusk can prioritize building bridge with China
During the economically and socially turbulent years since 2007, Europeans have basically suffered two recessions. And another one is around the corner if the newleadership of the European Union does not handle the economic recovery properly.
Bucking this trend, measured by economic statistics, Poland has stood out as the only economy in the EU that has not contracted during the years when Donald Tusk was that country’s prime minister over that period.
With such encouraging credentials, the 57-year-old Tusk has become the second full-time president of the European Council since the beginning of this month, replacingHerman Van Rompuy, and will host his debut summit of European leaders on Thursday and Friday. Of course, Europeans have shouldered him with the tremendous responsibility of repeating the Polish success story and bringing to an end the economic crisis, and he listed this as one of his four priorities on his first day of taking office in Brussels.
From the initial agenda of the summit set up by his office, the European leaders will look at further efforts to foster growth, jobs and European competitiveness and they will discuss in particular the commission’s initiative of mobilizing 315 billion euros ($392.18 billion) of investment from 2015 to 2017.
Tusk’s colleagues in Central and Eastern Europe are expected to bring fresh ideas to the Brussels summit to materialize the colossal investment blueprint after the ThirdMeeting of Heads of Government of China and Central and Eastern European Countries in Belgrade this week.
On top of the 69 cooperation projects between China and the countries implemented after the second meeting in Romania last November, visiting Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to inject more investment to boost infrastructure and sea and land connections between China and the regions. While introducing China’s Silk Road Belt and Road Initiatives, Li has particularly promoted China’s high-speed railway technology and also nuclear power generation.
China has set its eyes on theWest and it is focusing on the Central and Eastern European countries, where there is potential for further development.
Tusk should well remember the first such meeting between China and the 16 Central and Eastern European countries, which was held in Warsawin 2012 when he was prime minister of Poland. He was standing next to former premierWen Jiabao when the group photo was taken. Tusk also attended the second such gathering in Bucharest in November 2013.
China wants to increase its investment and trade flow in the region, as the trade volume between China and the 16 Central and Eastern European countries is less than one-third of that between China and Germany. And China’s total investment in the countries has been less than that in Italy.
Decades ago, China opened up its eastern coastal regions and at the turn of the century, it came up with theWestern Development Program to boost the opening-up of its inland areas. Now, the Chinese leadership has offered a timely recipe to Asia and Europe by encouraging connections through infrastructure constructions.
Within the European Union, it is urgent to bridge the development gap between the west and the east, so Brussels also needs to look east.
To some extent, Tusk has already sent a strong signal to help achieve this. Shortly after he moved to Brussels this month, Tusk accepted President Xi Jinping’s invitation to visit Beijing as soon as possible.
Brussels has just made public its intention to use 21 billion euros of fiscal funding to channel 315 billion euros in additional private investment. But how it will accumulate and use these funds is still unknown.
At the summit this Thursday and Friday, when European leaders discuss the potential projects to put EU’s 315-billion-euro investment plan on paper, the cooperation between China and Eastern and Central European countries can offer food for thought. The author is China Daily’s chief correspondent in Brussels. firstname.lastname@example.org