China, Austria can work together to promote European economic integration

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/9 22:43:44

The rare collective visit by the Austrian heads of state and government to China, which began on Saturday and continues through Thursday, attracted a lot of attention regarding Austria's role in China's Belt and Road (B&R) initiative.

Calling Austria an important cooperative partner of China in Europe,  Chinese President Xi Jinping said "the new Austrian government has written into its working program the contents of enhancing relations with China as well as the B&R initiative," the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Longstanding ideological and political pressures divided the continent into what some people call Western Europe and Eastern Europe, and considerable differences persist between the two areas. The ongoing visit by the Austrian leaders has brought Austria closer to China, and this will likely advance regional economic integration.

Austria will hold the EU presidency in the second half of this year, which will allow the country to play a positive role in China-EU cooperation. Austria has also been granted observer status in the existing cooperation mechanism between China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), also known as the 16+1 cooperation.

Within the framework of the 16+1 cooperation, most of the countries also have good bilateral relations with China and welcome enhanced ties. Some Western observers believe China's cooperation with the CEEC has accelerated the differentiation of European countries. 

Austria belongs to the Western camp, but it also has traditional close connections with the CEEC. Austria's role in China's B&R initiative will help it to act as a bridge for regional economic integration.

With a 250-strong business delegation, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen set a record in Austria's modern diplomatic history with his visit to China. We have reason to believe Austria's cooperation with the B&R initiative will soon bear fruit.

Chinese Ambassador to Austria Li Xiaosi was quoted by Xinhua as saying that China has proposed a feasibility study of extending China Railway Express to Austria.

The express route will be conducive to stepping up the interconnection of European countries.

Railway connectivity will be the first step in regional integration, following by coordination and collaboration on trade, investment and rules in other fields. In this context, China will be more involved in the process of European economic integration.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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