Monday

3rd Oct 2022

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"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.

Author bio

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.

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.

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.

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.

An open China will foster a world-class business environment

China is expanding market access for foreign enterprises and creating a world-class environment where businesses are assured a high-level of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and equal access to opportunities.

EU, wake up! Don't leave West Balkans to Russia or China

Russia's attack on Ukraine and European values must remind us how important the enlargement process is, if properly conducted, as a motor for democracy, freedom, peace, the rule of law and prosperity, write six S&D MEPs.

Dialogue and action – Nordic cooperation and view on COP26

Nordic countries launched several initiatives at the COP26 climate conference which will have a real impact on the ground. Nordic and UK pension funds are to invest billions in clean energy and climate initiatives. Greenland has joined the Paris Agreement.

News in Brief

  1. Czechs warn joint-nationality citizens in Russia on mobilisation
  2. Greece to unveil proposal for capping EU gas prices
  3. Four dead, 29 missing, after dinghy found off Canary Islands
  4. Orbán: German €200bn shield is start of 'cannibalism in EU'
  5. Lithuania expels top Russian diplomat
  6. Poland insists on German WW2 reparations
  7. Russia halts gas supplies to Italy
  8. Bulgaria risks hung parliament after inconclusive vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Last-minute legal changes to Bosnian election law stir controversy
  2. EU wants probe into alleged Nagorno-Karabakh war crimes
  3. EU officials were warned of risk over issuing financial warning
  4. EU debates national energy plans amid calls for more coordination
  5. What Modi and Putin’s ‘unbreakable friendship’ means for the EU
  6. EU leaders have until Friday for refugee resettlement pledges
  7. Cities and regions stand with citizens and SMEs ahead of difficult winter
  8. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us