Friday

15th Dec 2017

Stakeholder

"16+1" cooperation injects new vigour into China-EU cooperation

  • 16+1 cooperation was initiated by China in 2012 and now includes 11 EU member states and 5 Balkan countries. (Photo: MTI)

On 27 November 2017, the Sixth Summit of China and Central and Eastern European Countries was held in Budapest.

The cooperation between China and the 16 central and eastern European (16+1) countries has grown from strength to strength and increasingly matured over the past five years, as marked by a number of early harvests in the areas of trade, investment, infrastructure, finance, education, tourism and people-to-people exchanges.

"16+1" cooperation has delivered benefits to its members, and has become a highlight of China-Europe cooperation as a whole.

Since I arrived in Brussels, and in fact even before that, I have heard some concerns expressed about the 16+1 cooperation.

Some have called it "divide and rule" tactics by China against the EU. However, such concerns and misunderstandings are totally unfounded if one looks at why China chose to start the 16+1 cooperation in the first place and how China has gone about it ever since.

Supporting European integration

China is always a supporter of European integration. This position is clear-cut and consistent. To divide the EU is not in China's interests. As Chinese President Xi Jinping put it, the 16+1 cooperation is an important part of and useful complement to the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, and can play a role in promoting China-EU partnerships for peace, growth, reform and civilisation.

The 16+1 cooperation is transparent, open and inclusive. China welcomes the EU and other relevant parties to get actively involved. The EU has been invited to many activities under the "16+1" framework as an observer.

China respects EU laws and regulations; EU member states participating in 16+1 cooperation also comply with EU laws and policies.

A firm supporter of the European integration process, China wants to see a united EU, a prosperous Europe, and a stable euro. And China's support is backed by concrete actions.

Connecting Asia and Europe

16+1 cooperation and China-Europe cooperation are interconnected.

China-Europe cooperation provides a solid foundation for 16+1 cooperation. As China and Europe work together to synergise the Belt and Road Initiative and the Investment Plan for Europe as well as development strategies of European countries, CEE countries will play a more prominent role as a hub that connects Asia and Europe.

Meanwhile, 16+1 cooperation could serve as a new engine of China-Europe cooperation. In promoting 16+1 cooperation, we are exploring new areas, approaches and practices in light of the industrial features and development needs of CEE countries. In doing so, China-Europe cooperation has been significantly broadened and deepened.

Without 16+1 cooperation, China-Europe relations would not have been so productive and successful.

Tangible outcomes

16+1 cooperation is conducted on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. It benefits CEE countries by diversifying and complementing their existing trade routes and sources of investment and financing. It benefits all its members by promoting economic development and livelihoods through concrete projects.

The past years have seen tangible outcomes of 16+1 cooperation - the Budapest-Belgrade railway, the 16+1 financial holding company, the 16+1 inter-bank consortium, to name just a few.

The 16+1 cooperation also benefits the EU and Europe as a whole as faster development in CEE countries contributes to more balanced development across Europe and European integration. I am confident that the Budapest Summit will produce even more fruitful results.

Ultimately, the 16+1" cooperation is a creative framework which enables countries in different regions and with different social systems to work together. It goes hand-in-hand with China-Europe cooperation and constantly injects new vigour into such cooperation.

With that, China, CEE countries and the EU will become better off together.

H.E. Ambassador Zhang Ming is head of the Chinese Mission to the EU.

Disclaimer: This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

Focus

China's 'new era' means balance with EU

Under Xi Jinping's second term as leader, China wants more equality with the US and the EU, while waiting for Europeans to show their global clout.

Focus

China's 16+1 foray into Central and Eastern Europe

Half a decade after it was launched, the network of cooperation between China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries has brought uneven economical and political fruits so far.

Opinion

Why the EU doesn't get China's Belt and Road

It is not enough for European officials to simply tell the press that they do not understand the Belt and Road – the vision is clear enough, the point is to decide how to engage with it.

Focus

Hungary-Serbia railway launched at China summit

The flagship project of China's increased presence in central and eastern Europe was launched on Tuesday, following an EU probe as a summit in Budapest raises questions on Beijing's influence.

Stakeholders' Views

This EUobserver section provides a platform for EU stakeholders to communicate positions, views and activities.

News in Brief

  1. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  2. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  3. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  4. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  5. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  6. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  7. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont
  8. French central bank lifts 2017 growth forecast

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  2. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  3. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states
  4. EU asylum debate reopens old wounds
  5. Estonia completes two out of three priority digital bills
  6. EU countries are not 'tax havens', parliament says
  7. Tech firms' delays mean EU needs rules for online terror
  8. Slovak PM: Human rights are not a travel pass to EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  2. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  3. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  6. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  7. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  8. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  9. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  10. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  11. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  12. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives