Premier Li Keqiang to attend Sofia summit

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/4 22:33:41

Cooperation benefits European integration: expert

China's strengthened cooperation with Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) helps to balance economic and social development of European countries, which is also beneficial to EU and European integration, Chinese analysts said ahead of Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Bulgaria and Germany.

Premier Li will travel to Bulgaria for an official visit and the Seventh Summit of Heads of Government of China and CEEC in Sofia before going to Germany for the fifth round of intergovernmental consultations between China and Germany and an official visit from July 5 to 10, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao said at a press briefing last week that the summit in Sofia aims to deepen open and pragmatic cooperation and jointly promote prosperity and development.

Li will also attend the opening ceremony of the Eighth China-CEEC Economic and Trade Forum and witness the signing of project agreements between China and CEEC, Wang said.

"China's cooperation with CEEC does not mean to seek power in the EU's backyard or attempt to split Europe as some Western people suspect. On the contrary, the cooperation helps the EU improve its members' economy and promotes unification. The EU should thank China for it," Zhao Junjie, a research fellow at the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

 "A deepened cooperation between China and CEEC could ensure a sustained and healthy development in relations between China and Europe," Zhao said.

Under the framework of the Belt and Road initiative and 16+1 cooperation, China has strengthened cooperation with CEEC in the past six years in fields including agriculture, energy and automobiles, which has brought CEEC new technologies and created jobs for the local people, according to Zhao.

In comparison, Europe faced increasing challenges and difficulties, such as a migrant crisis, sluggish economy and strained relations with the US, according to Zhao.

"What I want to emphasize is that China's perspective on the China-CEEC cooperation has never broken away from the context of China-EU cooperation. Splitting the EU is not in the interests of China," the Xinhua News Agency quoted Chinese Ambassador to Bulgaria Zhang Haizhou as saying Wednesday.

Trade volume between China and CEEC reached nearly $70 billion in 2017 and China's investment in the 16 CEEC also climbed to nearly $10 billion, Xinhua said.

Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies, China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times that Li's visit will promote more pragmatic cooperation between China and CEEC.

"Cooperation in new fields are likely to be conducted this time, such as developing regional cooperation between China and CEEC," Cui said.

Bulgaria is a relatively less developed country in Europe, but it still has its comparative advantages. China may deepen cooperation with it in wind power generation, tourism, wine making and agriculture, Zhao said.


Newspaper headline: Li to attend Sofia summit


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