I would like to take this opportunity to make a few comments in this regard.
“17 + 1 cooperation” was created during the global economic crisis after the European debt crisis. It is a historic choice for China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to find a way out, building a favorable platform for deepening the traditional friendship between China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation. In the eight years since its establishment, all parties have taken into account and fully accommodated their concerns based on the principles of balance, equality, openness and innovation, pursuing the objectives of complementarity, mutual benefit, co-construction and win-win cooperation. , truly becoming a trans-regional cooperation platform for the practice of multilateralism that has achieved fruitful results in promoting the economic growth of the two sides, facilitating the development of “Belt and Road” and promoting the development of China-Europe relations.
In 2019, trade between China and 17 Central and Eastern European countries reached $ 95.452 billion, an annual increase of 6.91%; trade volume with the 16 Central and Eastern European countries (excluding Greece) reached $ 86.99 billion, up 67.1% from 2012. Despite a sharp decline in international direct investment, Chinese investment in CEECs increased by 67%. Investments in major projects in energy, minerals, home appliances manufacturing and other fields have increased and new steps have been taken in cooperation in third markets. Infrastructure connectivity between the two sides continues to improve: the Hungary-Serbia railway, the port of Piraeus in Greece, the North-South highway in Montenegro and the Pelješac bridge in Croatia are progressing smoothly, and cooperation in new areas such as information communication and smart cities it developed rapidly. Last year, more than 8,000 China-Europe freight trains were launched, steady progress was made in building the China-Europe Express Sea and Land Line, and Central and Eastern European countries continued to develop as hubs. connectivity between Asia and Europe. Local cooperation is deepening, the demonstration area of economic and trade cooperation Ningbo 17 + 1 for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (Liaoning, China) has been successfully launched. The exchanges between people have become closer. In 2018, the number of Chinese citizens who visited Central and Eastern European countries exceeded 1.4 million, and that of Central and Eastern European countries who visited China reached 350,000. The two sides also carried out a series of cooperation in cultural and creative fields, such as performing arts, animation and film. We achieved these results because we were always open-minded and focused on “pragmatic cooperation” as a starting point and end point. In addition, almost all the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have now taken the lead in a certain field in the framework of 17 + 1 cooperation, each country can fully play to its own advantages and characteristics and can make truly extensive consultations, joint contributions and shared benefits.
Since the beginning of this year, the COVID-19 epidemic has cast a shadow over the entire world and dealt a severe blow to the health, safety and economic development of people around the world. In the face of the epidemic, leaders of China and Central and Eastern European countries exchanged letters of condolence, donated anti-epidemic materials to each other, and organized a series of exchange meetings to prevent and control epidemics. China has built an “air corridor” for the purchase of medical supplies from China to Central and Eastern European countries so that the materials can be delivered in a timely and efficient manner. People supported each other, and the children of the “Allegretto” choir from Romania sang Chinese songs to cheer up China. They received around 30 million views on Chinese social networks and received numerous accolades. “17 + 1 cooperation” is the “cornerstone” of friendship and cooperation between the two sides, demonstrating once again the precious nature of helping each other in times of difficulty by standing the test of time.
Needless to say, the “17 + 1 cooperation” was also affected by the epidemic. Fortunately, China has taken the lead in controlling the epidemic and resumed work and production. Prevention and control measures in Central and Eastern European countries have also yielded positive results, which have created favorable conditions for “renewed” cooperation. According to traditional Chinese philosophy, danger and opportunity go hand in hand. “17 + 1 cooperation” has the right genes to deal with the crisis, China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have strong confidence in cooperation, using that wisdom and joint efforts, the parties are fully able to find new opportunities in the crisis and promote cooperation for even more prosperous development in the post-epidemic era.
First of all it is necessary to strengthen the understanding. There are cultural differences between China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, but the motivation for mutual understanding has always existed. Only through more contacts, exchanges and dialogues can we address the cultural differences between the two sides and eliminate cultural barriers. The two sides can open more direct flights, organize more cultural and interpersonal exchanges to increase contact between the two peoples, tell their own stories and promote two-way communication through the Internet and new media to enhance the connection. of people. The Chinese Embassy in Romania made efforts for this purpose, we presented China to the Romanian public through Facebook and other platforms and we presented Romania to the Chinese public through WeChat. We have achieved good results in this regard, considering that since the beginning of this year, the total number of readers has reached 2 million.
Second, innovative ideas. Both China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have a high degree of openness, with most Central and Eastern European countries being EU member states. Trilateral cooperation under the 17 + 1 initiative enjoys unique advantages and has generated many success stories. The Pelješac Bridge in Croatia integrates EU funds, EU standards and Chinese technology, a project that benefits both China and Croatia and China and Europe. The project for the Attarat oil shale plant in Jordan, built jointly by companies from China, Malaysia, Estonia and other countries, highlights multi-party cooperation and multilateral benefits. We must work actively to strengthen tripartite and multi-party cooperation, combine the strengths of China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in terms of capital, technology and personnel, so as to achieve genuine mutual benefit and win-win results.
Third, encourage new growth points. The epidemic has created new and greater demands in medical and healthcare systems, especially in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, and has accelerated the development of emerging industries such as 5G technology, big data applications, the digital economy and cloud computing. The United Nations, the European Union and China have all expressed their importance for the green environmental protection industry in various forms and increased their investment. Some Central and Eastern European countries have strong capacities in the field of vaccine research and development for COVID-19, medical mask production, research and development of new materials. The two sides can use this as a starting point to achieve more targeted and operational cooperation, so as to encourage new growth points for 17 + 1 cooperation in the post-epidemic era.
The epidemic is just a ripple along the river of human development and will not change the trend of exchanges and cooperation between countries. I am confident that through the joint efforts of China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, “17 + 1 cooperation” will surely move forward steadily and bring new benefits to people in all countries.