The ninth summit between China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), originally scheduled for the first half of 2020, was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but the cooperation between the two sides has not stopped.
After the total trade volume between the two sides hit $103.45 billion in 2020, China and CEEC highlighted further cooperation in multiple areas like vaccines, trade and green economy at Tuesday’s China-CEEC Summit, which was held via video link.
What are the common goals?
Global cooperation in COVID-19 vaccines is a hot topic in the international community, and the China-CEEC mechanism will not be absent in making contributions in this area.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his keynote speech at the summit that joint efforts will be made in medical and health care, experience sharing, and turning COVID-19 vaccines into global public goods.
So far, Serbia has received 1 million doses of the vaccine from a Chinese company, and there is ongoing cooperation between Hungary and Chinese vaccine companies, Xi said, adding that China will actively consider such cooperation with other CEE countries if there is a need.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Xi has engaged in intensive “cloud diplomacy,” including attending or chairing virtual meetings and having phone calls with foreign leaders and heads of international organizations, to make China’s contributions to the research, development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Trade cooperation will keep injecting powerful impetus into global economic recovery and growth.
China intends to import, in the coming five years, more than $170 billion of goods from CEEC, and will make efforts in doubling CEE countries’ agricultural exports to China and raise two-way agricultural trade by 50 percent over the next five years, Xi said.
Alignment of cross-regional cooperation with Belt and Road cooperation, and improvement of the role of China-Europe freight trains in the economic development were also stressed by the Chinese president.
Currently, all 17 members of the CEEC under the cooperation framework have signed cooperation documents with China on the joint construction of the Belt and Road.
Meanwhile, the number of China-Europe freight trains stood at 12,400 in 2020, with key passages and destinations including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Last year, a record number of 12,400 freight train trips were made between China and Europe, ferrying goods, particularly personal protective equipment, to the European continent, which was one of the hardest-hit places in the pandemic.
With 88 cooperation documents reached as outcome of Tuesday’s summit, making more progress in sectors like green economy, digital economy, cultural and people-to-people exchanges was also stressed.
How to achieve the goals?
Undoubtedly, the tasks above are not easy, especially in the post-pandemic era when the global COVID-19 cases already surpassed 100 million and the number is still climbing and new strains of the coronavirus are running wild.
At Tuesday’s summit, China underlined sustained vibrancy of cooperation between China and CEEC in the solutions.
Emphasizing that openness and inclusiveness are the key to the sustained vibrancy, Xi said that China and CEEC have developed some principles that are reflective of its distinctive features and accepted by all parties.
Making decisions through consultation, delivering benefits to all cooperation partners, pursuing common development through openness and inclusiveness, and achieving bigger growth through innovation, are all important, Xi said.
Challenges and opportunities often times go hand in hand when crises hit.
The China-CEEC cooperation mechanism was born in 2012 against the backdrop of the European debt crisis, and now, after the whole world experienced a severe collapse in economy in 2020, eyes are on China and CEEC again, with more expectations.
Original article: https://news.cgtn.com/news/2021-02-09/Cooperation-not-postponed-China-CEEC-gear-up-for-vaccines-trade-XK2S63XmeI/index.html