SHIJIAZHUANG, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Ana Jovancai from Serbia, doesn't think of China as some far-flung, mysterious country, thanks to China-related courses at her university and the Internet.
"More and more young people are interested in the Chinese language and its culture, so we offer courses," said Jovancai, deputy director of the international cooperation center at John Naisbitt University, Belgrade.
Jovancai is now in Tangshan, north China's Hebei Province, for an education forum run under the third China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries Local Leaders' Meeting, which convened Friday.
She said the current state visit of Chinese top leader to her motherland will bring more opportunities for cooperation between the two countries.
At the meeting held in Tangshan, delegates from more than 15 Chinese provinces and 50 states of CEE countries gathered to discuss local-level cooperation.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in a congratulatory letter that the Chinese government encouraged provinces and cities in China and CEE countries to work to each other's advantages and participate in 16+1 cooperation in areas including production capacity, trade and intercommunication.
The China-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in 2013, is designed to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes. Among the over 60 countries and regions involved, one fourth are CEE countries.
At the forum, a CEE business research school and a Hungary research center were announced, as well as two cooperation projects by universities of China and CEE countries.
Jovancai said multiple infrastructure projects run by Chinese companies have created jobs for Serbians, and the proposed research school would serve as a study platform.
Wang Fengming, head of the Czech studies research center at Hebei GEO University, said particular research centers on CEE countries will deepen cultural exchanges and also help identify talent for the Belt and Road Initiative.
Wang said the number of Chinese students studying at CEE countries had surged to 3,200 by 2015, up 42 percent from 2014 levels, and there are about 5,000 students from CEE countries in China.
Apart from educational and cultural communication, entrepreneurs have tapped in to business opportunities thanks to closer ties between China and CEE countries.
Trade value between China and CEE countries was 56.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, up 28 percent over 2010. Chinese investment in CEE countries exceeded 5 billion dollars, statistics show.
At the investment and trade fair, another section of the meeting that was run Friday and Saturday, more than 700 enterprises from China and CEE countries meet to talk business cooperation.
Manufacturing, agriculture, health care, food processing and aviation are among the 10 industries involved in the fair.
Yan Bin, a musical instrument producer from Wuqiang County, Hebei Province, said he had invited D&D, a framer from Italy, to talk about an acquisition deal, as he is planning to expand his business.
"If we successfully buy their company, we will make use of their design in Italy and produce frames in China, and maybe introduce European paintings to China," he said.