China-CEEC cooperation opened a new chapter – world


Visitors taste Hungarian wine at the Second China-Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) Exhibition in Ningbo, east China’s Zhejiang Province, June 9, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Since the establishment of the China-Central and Eastern European Countries Cooperation Mechanism in 2012, China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have started a new chapter of cooperation. In recent years, despite challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still stable drivers and great potential for cooperation between China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have faced common challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic in recent years, such as the supply chain crisis, sluggish economic growth and disruption. import and export trade. The pandemic has put downward pressure on the economies of all countries and affected international economic and trade cooperation.

Moreover, as relations between China, the United States and the European Union become more complicated, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are under increasing pressure from the United States and its allies to choose sides. between China and the United States, casting a shadow over China-CEEC cooperation. Political changes in some Central and Eastern European countries have also created uncertainties in their cooperation with China. However, China-CEEC relations remain resilient and robust despite headwinds.

In the political field, China and the CEECs have a strong will to strengthen cooperation, which lays the foundation for continued cooperation under the China-CEEC mechanism.

Since US President Joe Biden took office in January, relations between the United States and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have undergone changes. While some countries have sided with the United States, more and more countries have realized that they cannot fully rely on the United States and that it is equally important to develop ties with outside countries. to the European Union.

Meanwhile, some Central and Eastern European countries have disagreements with the EU on some issues, and the development of relations with major external powers could also increase their influence in the dialogue with the EU. In addition, at the China-CEEC summit in February, China pledged to continue to open up, participate more actively in bilateral, multilateral and regional cooperation, and achieve a higher level of win-win cooperation. An example of building a new type of international relations, China-CEEC cooperation still plays an important role in Chinese diplomacy. The will for political cooperation of the two sides is the cornerstone of China-CEEC cooperation.

In the economic field, the cooperation of the two parties remains strong. According to Chinese customs statistics, in the first three quarters of this year, the total value of bilateral trade between China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe reached 629.41 billion yuan ($ 98.8 billion) , up 27.2% year-on-year. Chinese exports to Central and Eastern European countries totaled 461.05 billion yuan, up 25.3%, while imports from Central and Eastern European countries totaled 168.36 billion yuan. yuan, up 32.5%.

Despite the limited economic size of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the growth of economic and trade cooperation between China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe has been greater than that between China and the EU. In the first three quarters of this year, trade between China and the EU grew 22.7% year-on-year.

In addition, the operation of the China Railway Express has boosted China-CEEC cooperation. According to the China State Railway Group, CRE trains carried 1.22 million 20-foot equivalent units of freight, a 33 percent increase from the same period last year.

In recent years, some Central and Eastern European countries have asserted that China attaches importance to economic and trade cooperation with non-EU countries, such as Serbia. However, statistics show that Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, China’s three main trading partners in Central and Eastern Europe, are all members of the EU and their economic and trade cooperation is growing every year.

In addition, Lithuania announced its withdrawal from the “17 + 1” cooperation mechanism (17 Central and Eastern European countries plus China), claiming that the mechanism had no significant positive impact on economic cooperation and bilateral trade. However, data from the Lithuanian National Employment Service Center showed that in the first eight months of 2020, the value of Sino-Lithuanian imports and exports reached $ 1.71 billion, up by 14.5% year-on-year, indicating steady growth in bilateral economic and trade relations. .

In political and economic terms, China has always adhered to the principle of practical cooperation and actively promoted its cooperative relations with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. There is great potential for future cooperation in areas such as connectivity, scientific and technological innovation, the digital economy, green development, agriculture and forestry.

China-CEEC cooperation is an important part of China’s efforts to build an open world economy and a new kind of international relations. It is also a beneficial element of China-EU relations. China aims to achieve mutual benefits through multilateral cooperation, which is in the interest of the vast majority of the world community.

By further strengthening China-CEEC cooperation, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe should work with China to resolve the issues and challenges and work together to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic under the principle of consultation. For the EU, it is important to abandon a cold war mentality and power politics, to reduce the influence of political manipulation on practical cooperation and to avoid a “lose-lose” situation.

China, as the world’s largest growing market, could be an important factor in the economic growth of Central and Eastern European countries. If the EU and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe understood this, it could be very important for the proper development of the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism.

The author is a researcher at the Institute for European Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Opinions do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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