The 4th China- CEEC Conference on Innovation will be organized by the Republic of Serbia. The Conference will take place on October 8th and 9th, 2019, in Belgrade.
Since 2017, the new Secretary-General of the China- CEEC Secretariat is China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Qin Gang, the Executive Secretary-General is the Director-General of the Directorate for Europe at the MFA of China Chen Sue, and the Deputy Secretary-General is the Special Advisor to the Lu Shan Secretariat.
Economic relations: Within five years of the initiative to promote cooperation between China and CEEC, China and the CEE countries have achieved a high growth rate of trade and investment relations. This is mainly due to the general trend of growth of China’s share in the world economy and trade and the initiative. CEEC play a key role in the Belt and Road strategy, creating a transport and logistics base for exporting Chinese goods to Europe, as well as in the so-called “opening strategy,” – internationalization of Chinese businesses and investments. In addition to CEEC ‘s key geographical position, the reasons for this lie in higher economic growth, less demanding regulation, lower production costs and closer relations with China in the last half-century than in the “old” EU Member States.
During the past five years, Serbia has become an important center for economic cooperation within CEEC, which is also reflected in the China’s intention to entrust coordination within the “China- CEEC Center for Transport and Infrastructure Cooperation” to Serbia. China’s presence in the field of lending and construction of roads and energy infrastructure has increased significantly, but the rise in Chinese foreign direct investment has also been notable in the last two years. A number of new investments are announced and are being discussed. The Visa Waiver Agreement (effective 15.1.2017) is expected to contribute to the arrival of more Chinese tourists and businessmen to Serbia. This could contribute to the opening of direct Belgrade-Beijing flights (there is interest from two Chinese airlines), and possibly Belgrade-Shanghai. “Bank of China” opened its representative office in Belgrade in the beginning of this year. Negotiations are underway to export meat to China, for which certain certificates have already been obtained, and the Chinese side is open to the entry of Serbian companies from the agro-sector into the Chinese market.
Within the framework of the China- CEEC Cooperation Mechanism, the following have been held in the Republic of Serbia in the past years:
Under the authority of the National Council (Government) of the People’s Republic of China, the National Committee for Development and Reform, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China jointly published a document titled Vision and Activities for the Joint Construction of the Silk Road Economic Maritime Belt 21st Century at the end of March 2014. The document has the character of a White Paper and sets out the background, principles, content, mechanisms and objectives of the New Silk Road concept.
Apart from the Preface, the document has the following eight chapters: Background, Principles, Framework, Cooperation Priorities, Cooperation Mechanisms, China’s Opening Regions, China in Action, and Shining a Bright Future. The Preface explains that the trade and cultural ties of Asia, Europe and Africa were established more than two millennia ago as what we know as the “Silk Road” and that in the 21st century – an era marked by ideas of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit – preserving the spirit of the Silk Road is of utmost importance, especially due to the slow recovery of the global economy and a complex international and regional situation. It is also noted that this Initiative (Belt and Road) was launched by the Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Prime Minister Li Keqiang in late 2013.
The concept of the Belt and Road is characterized by openness to cooperation and involvement of all stakeholders, the search for harmonious and mutually beneficial solutions and compliance with market economy rules.
Spanning over three continents, it connects East Asia’s dynamic economies with developed European economies by including the countries with high potential for economic development. The Silk Road Economic Belt focuses on China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe (up to the Baltic), thus connecting China to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean through Central and Western Asia i.e. connecting China with Southeast and South Asia and the Indian Ocean.
Regarding the cooperation mechanisms, China will make the most of the existing bilateral and multilateral channels, supporting the conclusion of appropriate agreements, the establishment of pilot projects, the formation of joint committees, etc.
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Memorandum of Understanding on Promoting the Joint Development of the Silk Road Economic Belt between the Government of the R Serbia and the Government of the People’s Republic of China was signed during the visit of the PM RS A. Vucic to the PR China in November 23-27, 2015; MoU on the IT Silk Road was signed during the visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s in June 2016. In this light, the Belgrade-Budapest express railway project should be considered an integral part of the 21st Century Silk Road, which will be used to transport Chinese goods by sea to the Greek port of Piraeus, from which it will be transported to Central Europe by rail via Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary – which is the shortest and easiest direction.