|Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (R) meets with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka in Prague, Czech Republic, Aug. 28, 2014. (Xinhua/Wang Ye)|
BRUSSELS, Aug. 28 -- China and the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region are exerting more efforts to enhance cooperation between the two sides.
In the latest development, a local leaders meeting between China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) opened Thursday in the Czech capital of Prague, which was attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.
The second edition of this meeting brings together more than 1,000 participants from local governments and companies in China and the 16 Central and Eastern European countries.
A platform for local governments and business circles, the forum is the second-most important platform within the mechanism of cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries, after the China-CEEC leaders meeting.
China has several existing projects in the region in cooperation with local governments.
For example, the Czech Republic -- where the meeting is being hosted -- and China are celebrating the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
During the visit, Vice Premier Zhang met Czech President Milos Zeman and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka to discuss cooperation in areas of manufacturing, infrastructure development and investment.
Neighboring Poland constitutes an important part of the Silk Road Economic Belt.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said: "Relations between China and Central-Eastern Europe have entered the best period in history, with bilateral meetings frequently held at all levels.”
Twinning projects exist between more than 30 cities in China and Poland. Both countries collaborate on the "Go China" program to enhance cultural cooperation, as well as promoting the Silk Road Central European Railway Connection construction to boost tourism and trade.
The president of the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency, Slawomir Majman, said: “The two countries have a large space for cooperation in the fields of coal, energy, telecommunications, infrastructure, agricultural products and food processing.”
Over in Lithuania, the “China+16” forum is viewed as complementary to the European Union-China strategic partnership, said Justas Pankauskas, advisor to Lithuania’s prime minister.
He said the forum provides excellent opportunities for bilateral and regional partnership in various fields such as economics, transportation, education and culture.
“China treats all the states as equal partners, no matter are they small or big, developed or developing and this is very important conditions for establishing stable partnership among them,” Pankauskas underlined.
Serbia, meanwhile, will unveil a Chinese-built bridge over the river Danube in its capital Belgrade by the end of the year. Once finished, the six-lane bridge will be 1.5 km long, 30 meters wide and will overarch the Danube at an altitude of 23 meters.
Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Li Manchang said that the bridge, popularly called “Chinese bridge”, is just one of the many large infrastructural projects between Serbia and China.
Chinese firm Shandong High-speed earlier this month started work on a 50 km highway connecting the Serbian capital with Montenegro.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said the construction of European corridor will boost the economy of the municipalities, after which “Serbia will become a completely new country, in an infrastructural sense.”
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, China's biggest investments are in the energy sector, with the country aiming to introduce more infrastructure projects, according to Nedzad Hadzimusic, former Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Brussels.
Hungary, too, has seen an increase in bilateral economic relations in recent years under its “opening to East” policy, said Tamas Nadasi, chairman of the Hungarian-Chinese section of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“In Hungary, not only the larger enterprises, but also the ambitious smaller ones want to cooperate with China. Hungary wants to be a gateway to China's economic expansion in the region,” Nadasi stated.
Slovenia, which is in the process of privatizing its infrastructure, is looking for shareholders for ports, airports and other infrastructure in the country, according to Marjan Hribar, director of the internationalization department in the Slovenian Ministry of Economy.
Hribar said China Southern Airlines has expressed interest in buying a 75 percent share of Ljubljana Airport in the capital, while Chinese companies have also expressed interest in buying a 60 percent share of the Mediterranean port of Koper.
"We expect more Chinese investment in fields such as power stations and telecommunications," he added.
Bulgaria’s Deputy Economy and Energy Minister Irena Mladenova said her country attaches much importance on expanding trade and industrial relations with China and will support all initiatives to deepen bilateral cooperation.
Successful instances of bilateral cooperation include a joint venture between Great Wall Motors and Litex Commerce, Tianjin State Farms Agribusiness Group Company's agricultural venture in central-south Bulgaria and Sinoma's construction project of a cement plant in Varna.