China ready to give positive consideration to CEE countries over vaccine cooperation
Published: Feb 09, 2021 04:14 PM Updated: Feb 09, 2021 06:50 PM

File photo:Xinhua

 Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday lauded the cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs), saying "17 plus 1 could make more than 18" and China is ready to give it positive consideration on vaccine cooperation.

Serbia has received 1 million vaccine doses from Chinese companies, and Hungary is working with Chinese vaccine companies. If other CEECs have a need for vaccine cooperation, China is ready to give it positive consideration, Xi said.

Xi made the remarks while delivering a keynote speech at the China-CEEC Summit held via video link.

Xi hosted the China-CEEC Summit and this is the highest-level summit since the establishment of the cooperation mechanism, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at Tuesday's press conference.

The summit, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and China's first major host diplomacy event of the year, signaled the full recovery of cooperation between China and CEECs and will chart the course for economic development of the two sides in the post-pandemic era, Chinese analysts said.

China-CEEC cooperation is based on mutual respect and has no political strings attached. China and CEEC hold a strong belief in openness-enabled opportunities and diversity resulting from tolerance, which is the crux of maintaining exuberant vitality of China-CEEC cooperation, Xi said. 

China and CEEC have developed cooperation principles that suit the respective characteristics of both parties and they have also been accepted by all parties, Xi said.

"Guided by the conviction that '17 plus 1 could make more than 18,' we have set up a multi-dimensional cooperation framework led by the leaders' summit and covering 20-plus sectors to ensure the participation of all CEE countries," he said.

"Mindful of each other's concerns, we have drawn up plans and decided on projects based on the national reality of each country, and encouraged all countries to find the best way to leverage their respective strengths in cooperation," he said.

Xi noted that China's sustained development and opening-up will inject robust vitality into global economic recovery and growth and open up a wider space for China-CEEC cooperation.

Photo taken on Sept. 9, 2017 shows a Chinese Railway Express cargo train leaving for Prague, the Czech Republic, from Yiwu, east China's Zhejiang Province. The train, loaded with 88 containers of cloth, clothing, shoes, hats and Christmas items, will pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and Poland and travel about 16 days before arriving in Prague. The journey is about half the time for traditional sea voyage. According to customs statistics, imports and exports via Yiwu's Sino-Europe freight service have grown rapidly, reaching 3 billion yuan in 2016.Photo:Xinhua

Xi called on China and CEEC to expand cooperation in sectors including digital economy, e-commerce and healthcare. China will boost the establishment of China-CEEC e-commerce cooperation and dialogue mechanism as well as China-CEEC public health industry alliance.

He also called for deepening cooperation with CEEC in trade security and customs facilitation. He said China will boost the establishment of a China-CEEC customs information center and customs coordination consultation stations. China is willing to conduct pilot projects with CEEC in smart customs, smart border and smart connect.

Making the summit the first major host diplomacy event of the year shows the importance China has attached to European diplomacy, Liu Zuokui, director of the Department of Central and Eastern European Studies at the Institute of European Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The summit is not only a continuation of China's year of diplomacy for Europe in 2020, but also a new beginning of its efforts to promote the China-European Union (EU) comprehensive strategic partnership in 2021, Liu said.

In the last two years, China has put much effort into its diplomacy in Europe, and the country has worked to make Europe a more important partner.

Analysts noted that the summit, which comes after Joe Biden took office as US President, will send a message to the US that relations between China and CEECs will remain stable and consistent, and will not be affected by political changes in the US.

According to Xi, China plans to import over $170 billion of goods from CEE countries over the next five years, will strive to double farm product imports from CEE countries over the next five years, and aims for a 50 percent rise in bilateral agricultural trade. Also, China is willing to expand merchandise imports from CEE countries.

With regard to global environmental governance issues, Xi said China and CEE countries should jointly implement the Paris Agreement to cope with climate change and deepen exchange and cooperation in areas including green economy and clean energy.