China’s in­vest­ment in CEEC sur­passes $9bl

EU may be in­vited to join cen­tral and east­ern Euro­pean co­op­er­a­tion

Global Times - Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Ma Jingjing

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.

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