China’s investment in CEEC surpasses $9bl
EU may be invited to join central and eastern European cooperation
Deepening trade and economic cooperation between China and 16 central and eastern European countries will not only achieve win-win results but also help boost European integration and promote China-Europe cooperation to a higher level, a Chinese commerce official said Friday.
Yu Yuantang, deputy director general of the Department of European Affairs at China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), made the comment at a press briefing to discuss progress of the cooperation mechanism known as 16+1 cooperation, which includes 16 central and eastern European countries (CEEC) and China.
He said that trade and economic cooperation between China and the CEEC has entered the fast track in recent years, with trade and two-way investment rapidly expanding. In 2017, trade volume between China and the 16 CEEC totaled $68 billion, an increase of 15.9 percent year-on-year.
Chinese investment in the 16 central and eastern European countries surpassed $9 billion, covering sectors including machinery, telecommunications, new energy and agriculture, Yu said.
The 16+1 cooperation mechanism, however, has caused some EU countries to worry that China has motives other than doing business there.
It’s unfair to suggest the 16+1 cooperation is an attempt to divide Europe, considering the countries possess the competence to attract foreign direct investment from countries outside their region, said Ye Bin, deputy director of the legal division of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of European Studies.
“As far as I know, some candidate countries for European Union membership envy certain CEECs that have received Chinese investment and say they wish China could invest in their countries,” Ye told the Global Times on Friday.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Berlin on Thursday that cooperation between China and the 16 countries is conducive to European integration, and a divided, weakened EU is not in China’s interests, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The 16+1 cooperation is viewed by China as a supplement to China-Europe relations, Wang noted.
China has always and firmly supported the European integration process, and China hopes the EU will maintain unity, stability and prosperity, said Wang, according to the Xinhua report.
To reduce criticism, Ye suggested that the 16+1 cooperation be expanded to 16+2, to upgrade the EU’s status from observer to member.
China is considering inviting representatives from individual EU countries to take part in the next 16+1 summit, said Wang.
At the MOFCOM conference, Yu also said that the 3rd China-CEEC Ministerial Meeting on Promoting Trade and Economic Cooperation will be held in Ningbo, East China’s Zhejiang Province on Thursday and Friday.
Topics such as China-CEEC trade and investment, connectivity, production capacity cooperation under the frame works of the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative and 16 CEEC will be discussed.