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Li Keqiang Attends Sixth Summit of Heads of Government of China and Central and Eastern European Countries

On the morning of November 27, 2017 local time, Premier Li Keqiang attended the Sixth Summit of Heads of Government of China and Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) in Budapest. 16 CEEC leaders attended the summit. The European Union, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Belarus and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development were present as observers.

Li Keqiang firstly watched with all the participating parties a video clip reflecting the course of the fifth anniversary of the "16+1 cooperation".

Li Keqiang expressed in his speech that over the past five years, guided by summits such as this and supported by maturing mechanisms, the"16+1 cooperation" has grown from strength to strength and yielded significant results in various fields, developing into an important channel of trans-regional cooperation.

― We have formulated the Medium-Term Agenda for Cooperation Between China and Central and Eastern European Countries, established over time 20-plus institutional exchange platforms, put forward major initiatives including the Budapest-Belgrade railway, the China-Europe Land Sea Express Line and the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea Seaport Cooperation and rolled out more than 200 specific measures.

―The investment by Chinese companies in the 16 CEEC has increased from US$3 billion to over US$9 billion in cumulative terms. China's imports of agricultural products from the CEEC rose by 13.7 percent on an average annual basis. A number of flagship infrastructure projects have entered into operation. The China-Europe freight trains made over 6,000 trips and six direct flights have been opened between the two sides. Over the past five years, the number of visits by Chinese tourists to Central and Eastern Europe has increased from 280,000 to 930,000.

―We boosted our own development through the "16+1 cooperation". Over the past five years, China's economy has maintained a medium-high average annual growth of over 7 percent, while the CEEC have successfully weathered the European debt crisis and registered a growth rate of over 3 percent in recent years, making it a leading performer in the European economy.

Li Keqiang pointed out that the key to the fast development of the "16+1 cooperation" lies in the commitment to the principle of "equal consultation, mutual benefit, openness and inclusiveness, being results-oriented and innovative" in developing our cooperation. The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China held last month underscored China's commitment to peaceful development, to a new-type of international relations and to advancing the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. The "16+1 cooperation" does not serve as a geopolitical tool but as an "incubator" for trans-regional practical cooperation, which will make the development of China-Europe relations more even.

Centering on the theme of this year's meeting, "Deepening economic, trade and financial cooperation for win-win development", Li Keqiang put forward the following suggestions:

First, we need to expand the economic and trade cooperation. We must advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. China is prepared to import more high-quality agricultural products from the CEEC to meet the diverse needs of Chinese consumers and promote balanced growth of two-way trade.

Second, we need to enhance connectivity. China is ready to speed up the implementation of key connectivity projects to promote land, maritime, air and cyberspace links. China supports the introducing of more customs clearance facilitation measures, the launch of more facilitation measures and more China-Europe freight train services and direct flights, and the establishment of logistics hubs in the Central and Eastern European region.

Third, we need to strengthen cooperation on innovation. China suggests that we explore, based on commercial rules, a format for "16+1" industrial parks focusing on key areas such as industrial capacity, energy, logistics and agriculture. China has proposed a "16+1" science and technology partnership program, and Businesses from the CEEC are most welcome to take part in the Made in China 2025 initiative.

Fourth, we need to bolster financial support. China-CEEC Inter-Bank Association is officially inaugurated today; and the second stage of the China-CEEC Investment Cooperation Fund has been set up, with capital mainly channeled to the Central and Eastern European region.

Fifth, we need to energize people-to-people exchange. We aim to work more closely on tourism to allow our people to travel with simplified visa and customs procedures. Potential cooperation in such fields as youth development, traditional Chinese medicine, sports and the protection of women and children will be explored and educational and media exchanges are to be expanded. China also proposes designating the year 2018 as the Year of Cooperation between Local Governments and Local Enterprises.

Li Keqiang stressed that the "16+1 cooperation" does not mean to add up 16 bilateral relations simply, but to yield way more results than that of 17. He believed that with joint efforts of the 17 countries, the "16+1 cooperation" will reach a new level.

16 CEEC leaders spoke highly of Li Keqiang's cooperation initiatives, saying that the fruitful cooperation results in the past five years fully show that it is a common wish of all countries to strengthen the "16+1 cooperation", which is becoming more and more important. They are willing to give play to the promotion role of this platform to implement the consensus on cooperation, explore new potentials and strengthen practical cooperation in such fields as connectivity, finance, e-commerce, agriculture, logistics, small and medium-sized enterprises, tourism and people-to-people and cultural engagement, so as to push forward the development of their relations with China, CEEC-China relations and Europe-China relations and to achieve mutual benefit and win-win results.

After the summit, China and the 16 CEEC jointly issued the Budapest Guidelines for Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries. All leaders jointly witnessed the signing of multiple cooperation documents covering the Belt and Road Initiative, connectivity, production capacity cooperation, infrastructure construction, finance, quality inspection and people-to-people and cultural engagement.

Li Keqiang also met the press together with Prime Minister Orbán Viktor of Hungary, the host country of the Sixth China-CEEC Summit, and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov of Bulgaria, the host country of the next Summit.

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