The cooperation mechanism between China and the Central and East European Countries (CEEC) has brought immense benefits, which encourages them to further intensify exchanges in the context of today's complex global situation, speakers said at an online event held on Wednesday.
The opening of the 8th High-Level Symposium of Think Tanks of China and Central and East European Countries, titled "China-CEEC Cooperation in the Context of Global Changes" was addressed by Ivica Dacic, first deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Serbia, Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo, Zhao Qi, secretary general of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and Branislav Djordjevic, director of the Institute of International Politics and Economics (IIPE).
Recalling that over the past decade the volume of trade between China and the CEEC has grown by 142.6 percent to 136.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, Dacic said that the region's exchanges with China should be further intensified and reiterated Serbia's commitment to promoting this process.
He said that the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism has been striving to "become a comprehensive platform that further encourages and complements all aspects of our extensive cooperation" and announced additional joint efforts to further intensify this process, "which has proven to be outstanding for the preservation of old and the development of new forms of cooperation."
Chen, who has personally overseen the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism over the past decade, explained how extensive consultations and joint contributions resulted in successful cooperation and shared benefits in the areas of trade, investments, interconnectivity, tourism, pandemic prevention and control, agriculture and education.
"China has become the largest trading partner of the CEEC outside the European Union, the largest source of foreign direct investment ... During the pandemic, our cooperation has enhanced our economic resilience," she said, praising the mechanism's role in strengthening bilateral ties between the participating countries.
Zhao said on behalf of the CASS that the comprehensive framework of the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism has in the past ten years produced tangible results in 20 sectors and 15 platforms, showing that the mechanism is a "living proof of multilateralism."
On behalf of the IIPE, Djordjevic said that the current era is one of "uncertainty, when crises pile up and multiply -- from the economy, energy to climate, food security and epidemic."
He said that in such a context, China's global development initiatives gain even greater importance as they contribute to the emerging multipolarity, the central role of the United Nations, adherence to international law, and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.
The symposium was co-organized by the Institute of International Politics and Economics in Belgrade and the Institute of European Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, as well as the China-CEEC Think Tanks Network. It brought together academics, experts and researchers to discuss the results of the exchanges conducted so far and to identify new opportunities and paths.