Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries
Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (China-CEE, China-CEEC, also 17+1, formerly 16+1) is an initiative by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to promote business and investment relations between China and 17 countries of CEE (CEEC) – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The format was founded in 2012 in Warsaw to push for cooperation of the "17+1" (the 17 CEE countries and China). The 17+1 meet annually; summits were held in Dubrovnik (2019), Sofia (2018), Budapest (2017), Riga (2016), Suzhou (2015), Belgrade (2014), Bucharest (2013) and Warsaw (2012). The China-CEE secretariat is in Beijing, with 17 "national coordinators" in each of the partner CEE countries.
The format's goals are to promote the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and enhance cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, transportation and logistics, trade and investment". These goals are supported by "growing ties in the areas of culture, education and tourism ... cultural exchanges, think tanks and NGOs."
Infrastructure, investment and trade
This includes (as of 2017) Serbia's E763 Highway project, the Budapest-Belgrade railway and the China-Europe land-sea express line. In Croatia, a contract to build the first phase of the Peljesac bridge and its access roads, signed by a Chinese consortium led by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC). In Poland, the acquisitions of Huta Stalowa Wola civil engineering machinery division and KFLT Bearings Poland by Chinese companies. According to China Customs’ statistics, China's trade volume with CEEC totaled $67.98 billion in 2017, a 15.9 percent increase compared to that of 2016. According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, in 2016 China-CEE trade increased to $58.7 billion (from $43.9 billion in 2010), while its investment in CEE countries has accumulated to more than $8 billion, covering industries such as machinery, chemical, telecom and new energy.
From 2012 to 2017 six new direct flight routes between China and CEEC have been opened, the number of Chinese tourists visiting CEEC increased from 280,000 to 930,000, and the number of exchange students doubled as well[provide figures]. A China-CEEC Coordination Center for Cultural Cooperation was opened in North Macedonia. In China, the China-CEEC training center for young artists and China-CEEC Cultural and Creative Industries Exchanges and Cooperation Center were opened in the southwestern city of Chengdu.
Issue of human rights in China
On 6 October 2020, a group of 39 countries, including 11 CEE countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia), and other most of the EU member states, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Canada, Haiti, Honduras, and Japan, made a statement at the United Nations to denounce China for its treatment of ethnic minorities and for curtailing freedoms in Hong Kong.
China says the initiative is a ‘win–win’ cooperation for the countries involved and the EU. Jeremy Garlick, an assistant professor at the Prague University of Economics and Business, raised the view that China is pursuing an assertive strategy of ‘divide and conquer’ designed to benefit China at Europe's expense. This view has been challenged however, including by the European Commission, European Parliament, and several scholars, who view EU-Chinese relations as mutually beneficial.
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- Introduction of the Secretariat for Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries, on the china-ceec.org web (2013/11/20)
- National Coordinators on the china-ceec.org web
- ‘16+1’ mechanism set to bolster China-Europe ties, on the china-ceec.org web (2018/07/10)
- Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern Europe: Promising Start, Doubtful Outlook, by Ágnes Szunomár, China-US Focus, December 6, 2017
- Heusgen, Christoph. "Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen on behalf of 39 Countries in the Third Committee General Debate, October 6, 2020". Archived from the original on 7 October 2020. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
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- Weiqing Song (eds.),China's Relations with Central and Eastern Europe: From "Old Comrades" to New Partners, Routledge, October 2017.
- Anastas Vangeli, Central and Eastern Europe as a New Frontier of China's Multilateral Diplomacy, Guest Editor: Dragan Pavlićević, Global China and Symbolic Power: The Case of 16 + 1 Cooperation, Journal of Contemporary China, 11 April 11, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1080/10670564.2018.1458056
- Anastas Vangeli, China's Engagement with the Sixteen Countries of Central, East and Southeast Europe under the Belt and Road Initiative, 19 September 2017, https://doi.org/10.1111/cwe.12216, in: China & World Economy, Volume 25, Issue 5, Special Issue: Eurasian Perspectives on China's Belt and Road Initiative, September–October 2017, pp. 101-124.
- Jean-Paul Larçon (eds.), The New Silk Road: China Meets Europe in the Baltic Sea Region – A Business Perspective, HEC Paris, France, World Scientific, July 2017
- Radu Sava, Romanian rhetoric on China's 16+1. Diffraction of politics and economics in Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai 1/2019, pp. 132-155.
- Emilian Kavalski, China's "16+1" Is Dead? Long Live the "17+1.", The Diplomat, March 29, 2019.
- Ivana Karaskova, Engaging China in 17+1: Time for the ACT Strategy, The Diplomat, April 07, 2020.
- Keegan Elmer, Europe's '17+1' countries dissatisfied with China relations, report says, as summit is postponed, South China Morning Post, April 07, 2020.