WARSAW, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- At a virtual summit of China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries held on Tuesday, participants jointly formulated a list of activities to push ahead with cooperation between Beijing and CEE countries.
In a world fraught with challenges, the cooperative mechanism between China and CEE countries will undoubtedly inject new impetus and greater confidence into recovery, setting the blueprint for further development.
As an integral part of and helpful supplement to the reciprocal collaboration between China and Europe, China-CEEC cooperation has born fruits in multiple areas in recent years, ranging from trade, investment to joint efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the cooperation mechanism was launched in 2012, China's trade with CEE countries has increased 85 percent, logging an average annual growth rate of 8 percent, which is three times the growth of China's foreign trade and twice the growth of its trade with Europe as a whole.
China-CEEC cooperation is "a unique initiative that builds bridges between Europe and Asia" and is complementary to the cooperation between the European Union (EU) and China, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said.
Riding a wave of fast-growing momentum, China's total trade volume with 17 CEE countries reached 103.45 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, crossing the 100-billion-dollar mark for the first time.
"China's long-term focus to encourage regional cooperation with CEE countries is grateful," Arijandas Sliupas, Lithuania's former vice minister of transport and communications, told Xinhua, adding that relevant policies concerning the framework of cooperation between China and the EU are crucial as well.
George Tzogopoulos, director of EU-China programs and senior research fellow at the International Center for European Studies, told Xinhua that China wants to link its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the new European priorities that can speed up recovery, safeguard public health and foster green development. China-CEEC cooperation serves as a useful format for China's engagement with Europe.
Throughout the pandemic, China has been working closely with CEE countries on containing the virus. On top of providing face masks, test kits, and other essential supplies, China has reiterated commitment to making its COVID-19 vaccines a global public good, as there won't be a substantive revival unless the pandemic is brought under control.
Serbia has received the first batch of 1 million doses of China's Sinopharm inactivated coronavirus vaccines.
"We know that mass vaccination is possible thanks to the first million doses that arrived from China," said Darija Kisic Tepavcevic, Serbia's minister of labor, employment, veterans and social affairs, adding that China had given Serbia immense assistance from the very beginning of this battle.
Hungary quickly followed suit, securing a deal to buy China's Sinopharm vaccine, which will allow the vaccination of 2.5 million people.
Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said, "This deal will speed up vaccination, which could save the lives of thousands of people and contribute to lifting restrictions sooner."
Hungary was the first EU member to sign up for Chinese vaccines. China has said it will actively consider vaccine cooperation with other CEE countries.
From the Mediterranean to the Baltic, from the Danube to the Balkans, BRI projects have blossomed, supporting development in each country and bettering people's lives, as all 17 countries have signed agreements on Belt and Road cooperation.
"We all know how important Chinese investment is for industrial production in Serbia," said Mihailo Vesovic, director of the division for strategic analyses, services and internationalization at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, referring to China's Zijin Mining's investment in the steel plant in Smederevo, a city in central Serbia.
Highlighted by Greece's Piraeus Port, Poland's Krasnik Bearing Factory and the like, China's foreign direct investment in CEE countries totaled 3.14 billion dollars by the end of 2020.
To the north of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Stanari Thermal Power Plant went into operation in August 2016. Built by China Dongfang Electric Corporation, it has generated on-grid power of more than 7 billion kilowatt-hours since then, which has mainly been sold to European markets, including Croatia and Germany.
In Croatia, the China Road and Bridge Corporation is working on the construction of the Peljesac Bridge, a 2.4-km-long bridge connecting the Croatian mainland with the Peljesac Peninsula. It is an iconic infrastructure project funded by the EU.
Last year, the total contract value of China's newly signed overseas projects with the 17 countries spiked 34.6 percent to 5.41 billion dollars, making it possible for China and the CEE countries to further enhance cooperation in the future. Enditem