|Greetings Across Rivers and Mountains|
Written on the Occasion of the Meeting of Heads of Government of China and Central and Eastern European Countries
Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
Though thousands of miles apart, the hearts of the Chinese people and the people of Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries are linked to each other. My visit to some CEE countries over 20 years ago has left me with a deep impression. The Meeting of Heads of Government of China and CEE Countries and the opening ceremony of the Third Economic and Trade Forum between the two sides will be held on 26 November in Bucharest. I will attend the two meetings and visit Romania. I look forward to discussing with leaders of the 16 countries plans for future cooperation in all fields and having in-depth exchanges with people from various sectors of these countries. Before embarking on my journey, I wish to extend, on behalf of the Chinese people, cordial greetings to the people of CEE countries.
With mutual respect and mutual support, China and CEE countries have forged a deep traditional friendship. When the People's Republic of China was founded over 60 years ago, CEE countries were among the first to recognize it, thus starting a new era of friendship and cooperation. Over the years, we have always rendered each other most needed assistance in times of natural disasters and economic difficulties. This profound friendship of sharing weal and woe will be forever cherished in the heart of our people. In the 21st century, China's reform and opening up has entered a new stage and the economic transition in CEE countries has produced positive results. Our relations show greater vitality under the new historical conditions. In recent years, leaders of CEE countries and I have met often on numerous occasions, exchanged correspondence of congratulations, and established good personal relations. I am convinced that my visit this time will help deepen the mutual understanding between us and advance cooperation between China and the 16 CEE countries.
In 2012, economic cooperation between China and CEE countries delivered encouraging results, with two-way trade surpassing US$50 billion. China sent more than 100 trade and investment promotion missions to the CEE region to promote cooperation with the relevant countries in food, mechanical and electrical products, new energy and other fields. The signing of local currency swap agreements with Hungary and Albania has made financing and trade settlement easier for the companies of the two sides. China has conducted productive exchanges with Romania and other countries in crop plantation and plant breeding, and expanded cooperation with CEE countries in infrastructure development. The Belgrade bridge over the Danube is now a symbol of China-Serbia friendship. The China-CEE countries local leaders' meeting held in Chongqing last July attracted the participation of some 600 enterprises and over 1,000 representatives from various countries, giving new impetus to local exchanges and bringing tangible benefits to the people.
As it stands now, trade between China and CEE countries is only equivalent to 1/10 of China-EU trade, and there remains huge potential to be tapped in expanding practical cooperation between the two sides. China and CEE countries have both weathered the storm of the international financial crisis and the European debt crisis, and our economies are both growing steadily. Being emerging markets, we all face the task of achieving economic transition and innovation. China is implementing the strategy of westward opening, and Chinese companies are entering the global markets at a faster pace. Countries in the CEE region are also paying more attention to opening to the east, and many companies are now turning their eyes to the Asia-Pacific and Chinese markets. Such a shared vision has enabled our economic cooperation to thrive and prosper, and has produced new highlights of growth in cooperation.
- CEE countries produce meat, dairy and wine products with high quality. China's urbanization will unleash greater demands for beef, lamb, cheese, wine and other products, and the CEE region will be an important source of import of agricultural products for China. It will not be difficult for us to see an exponential growth in agricultural trade.
- The power generation facilities in CEE countries are in urgent need of upgrading. China has reached world standards in terms of the manufacturing and installation of equipments used in coal-fired and hydro power stations, including pumped storage power stations. We also have mature technologies and world-class manufacturing capabilities in the development of nuclear, wind and solar energies. The equipments we offer are inexpensive and of high quality, which makes China an ideal choice for CEE countries.
The cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and CEE countries cover a wide range of areas. Learning Chinese, studying in China and appreciating Chinese art have become popular trends in CEE countries. Quite a few students from CEE countries have actively participated and excelled in the "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition. Classic films and sport performances from CEE countries have deeply impressed the Chinese viewers. The world-famous Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic is an idol of young sports lovers in China and known affectionately as Xiao De among his Chinese fans. There is an account known as China-Europe Messenger on Weibo, a popular social network in China. On its message board, news about CEE countries can instantly fetch tens of thousands of hits. Sightseeing in CEE countries is a new fashion among the Chinese people. In 2012, nearly 320,000 people, mainly tourists, travelled between China and CEE countries. Many Chinese tourists have been deeply impressed by their visits to the family residence of Frederic Francois Chopin in Warsaw, Fisherman's Bastion (Halaszbastya) in Budapest and Peles Castle in Sinaia, Romania. To further encourage two-way tourism is now the common desire of our two sides. China and the 16 CEE countries are exploring the establishment of a tourism association to serve as a platform in facilitating two-way tourism. Tourism will become a major growth area in the people-to-people exchanges between us.
The world is undergoing profound changes. As China's development enters a new phase, we will remain committed to comprehensively deepening reform, opening still wider to the outside, further unleashing market vitality, innovating the way of macro regulation, promoting sustained and healthy economic growth, upgrading the Chinese economy, and bringing benefits to the entire Chinese people.