China’s premier says his country’s increased cooperation with Eastern Europe is part of the process of expanding globalization that will unite the two ends of the Eurasian landmass.
Premier Li Keqiang, attending a summit with 16 countries from central and eastern Europe in Budapest, the Hungarian capital, said Monday that cooperation between them was based on “mutual respect and the ‘win-win’ principle.”
“This kind of cooperation makes it possible for globalization to reach every segment of the world and can be more easily customized to the reality of every country,” Li said.
The premier noted that his country’s global imports would total some $8 trillion over the next five years.
“We hope the central and eastern European countries find their place in this volume and expand their presence on the huge Chinese market,” Li told an economic forum being held during the summit.
China’s “new Silk Road” initiative to expand trade across Asia, Africa and Europe is one of the keys themes of the sixth edition of the annual meeting with the 16 European countries.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has closed off his country to most migration from outside Europe, especially Muslims, said Europe needed “strong allies” to confront the “historical challenges” it is faced with.
“If Europe shuts itself in, it loses the possibility of growth,” Orban said. “We 16 have always been open and would always like to remain so. We always saw cooperation with China as a great opportunity.”
Orban has been keen to pursue a policy of “Eastern Opening” for Hungary, looking to increase trade with Asia while portraying Western Europe as economically challenged and losing its global standing. His stance is seen as an effort to discredit criticism from the European Union that he is undermining democratic principles.
“We see the Chinese president’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative as the new form of globalization which does not divide the world into teachers and students but is based on common respect and common advantages,” Orban said.
He also noted that for the countries in Eastern Europe, economic cooperation with China “is not hindered by any type of political obstacle.” In Hungary’s case, Orban rarely mentions human rights or minority issues when dealing with countries, often non-democratic regimes, while looking to expand economic ties.
Orban also said that the public procurement tenders for the reconstruction of a railway line between Budapest and Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, would be published Monday. The project is being financed mainly by China.
“This project is the first large investment project realized by cooperation between China, an EU member and a candidate for EU membership,” Orban said, adding that the upgraded railroad line could become the fastest transport route to Western Europe of China’s new Silk Road.