SOFIA, July 7 -- China is not geopolitically motivated in promoting its cooperation with 16 Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC), visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here Saturday.
Addressing the 8th China-CEEC business forum, Li said the 16+1 cooperation mechanism not only is conducive to the development of the two sides, but also helps narrow the gaps within the European Union (EU) for balanced development and advancement of the European integration.
Noting that recently there are some voices questioning whether the 16+1 cooperation is a geopolitical tool, or whether it will divide Europe, the Chinese premier said the doubts are misunderstanding.
The 16+1 cooperation conforms to overall interests of Europe, he said, adding that the 16+1 cooperation is an important part and a beneficial supplement of the China-Europe cooperation.
"We firmly support European integration, and this position will not change," said Li, underscoring that the EU is an important force for safeguarding world peace and stability, and is also China's largest economic and trade cooperation partner.
"A united, stable and prosperous EU and a strong euro conform to the fundamental interests of China," said Li.
He said that 16+1 cooperation always follows common international rules, including the World Trade Organization regulations, and relevant EU legal and regulatory framework.
Moreover, China upholds that the 16+1 cooperation should be conducted on the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, while enterprises are required to participate in bidding for European projects in accordance with market regulations and business rules, he said.
The 16+1 cooperation, which will not engage in exclusive arrangement, serves as a fair, transparent and open platform for cooperation, Li said.
It has been proved that the 16+1 cooperation not only injected new impetus to the development of China-CEEC ties, but also cultivated new driving forces to deepen China-EU comprehensive strategic parternship, said Li.