Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, gives a keynote speech calling on China and CEE countries to uphold silk road spirit and promote cooperation in Bucharest on July 14 (XINHUA)
While political parties may be divided on domestic and foreign issues, there is a rare unanimity among the parties of Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries when it comes to their recognition of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Over 600 delegates from the spheres of politics and business gathered at the Palace of Parliament, in the Romanian capital Bucharest on July 14 to attend the 2017 China-CEE Countries Political Parties Dialogue. A total of 35 parties from 16 CEE countries sent their representatives.
Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, attended the conference on July 14, 2017 during his official good-will visits to Romania.
The event was co-chaired by the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC) and Romania's ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD).
Liu called on political parties of China and Romania to maintain high-level contacts and deepen exchanges on state governance and party building.
He also called for enhanced communication and exchange in various fields to further consolidate the political and social base for friendship China between CEE countries and bring broad prospects to bilateral mutually-beneficial cooperation.
Song Tao, IDCPC Minister, said China is confident of building up the 16+1 cooperation into an important link connecting the Belt and Road with the European Union.
"The CEE countries are located in the center of Eurasia and have good economic conditions. They can play a more important role in linking the Asia-Pacific and European economic circles," Song said.
Song Tao, Minister of IDCPC, says China is confident of building up the 16+1 cooperation into an important link connecting the Belt and Road with the European Union in Bucharest on July 14 (XINHUA)
Collaboration sans strings
Qian Naicheng, head for Central and Eastern European Affairs at IDCPC, told Beijing Review that communication and exchanges between political parties of different countries play an important role in diplomacy.
Since China and the CEE countries held their first leaders' meeting and initiated the 16+1 cooperation framework in April 2012, the dialogue between political parties has become an important pillar of China-CEE countries' cooperation.
The dialogue was comprised of three parallel forums: a youth forum, one on local promotion and a third on business cooperation, with the theme of advancing the Belt and Road Initiative.
Istvan Hollik, member of the Hungarian National Assembly's Economic Committee and the Committee on European Affairs, called the event a unique form of communication giving both Central Europeans and the Chinese politicians an opportunity to understand each other in greater depth and breadth.
The next China-CEE summit will be held in Hungary in autumn.
A panorama of Political parties leaders attending the 2017 China-CEE Countries Political Parties Dialogue in Bucharest on July 14 (XINHUA)
Focus on Belt and Road
At the Bucharest dialogue, delegates expressed great expectations about the initiative.
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, collectively known as the Belt and Road Initiative, for building connectivity and promoting common development. The initiative has since become a focus of the cooperation between China and CEE countries.
"The Belt and Road Initiative has led us to… rebuilding the Silk Road, which in the past benefited both Europe and China, and will benefit both regions in the future as well," Hollik said.
Hungary, Serbia, and China are building the Budapest-Belgrade railway line together. The corridor from the Port of Piraeus in Greece will be a route accelerating the flow of goods between Europe and China.
Liviu Dragnea, PSD Chair, said in his keynote speech that the Belt and Road Initiative as well as the China-CEE countries cooperation mechanism would bring broad prospects to the development of Romania-China relations of mutually beneficial cooperation.
Jan Hamacek, Speaker of the Czech Parliament and Deputy Chairman of the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD), said an essential element of the strategic partnership between the Czech Republic and China is the former's participation in the Belt and Road Initiative.
An exhibition on the Belt and Road Initiative was held on the sidelines of the dialogue, providing background information as well as an update on the progress of the initiative in different countries.
Klemen Gliha, a delegate from the Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia, looked at it carefully. "It is a great idea to connect people living in different regions and promote business growth," he said.
Gliha, who is in charge of youth work in his party, said many young Slovenian people have some knowledge of the Belt and Road Initiative and expect mutual benefits from it.
Sergejs Potapkins, a Democrat member of Latvia's Parliament, said his party attaches great importance to relations with China.
"We are highly interested in China's development and are consistently in touch to receive information about the Belt and Road and learn about new situations, trends as well as opportunities," Potapkins said.
In November, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang paid a state visit to Riga, Latvia. The Chinese and Latvian governments signed a number of cooperation documents. Latvia is rich in fishery resources and products which have a market in China.
The opposition parties attending the dialogue also agreed about the huge potential in China-CEE countries cooperation.
Michal Ludwikowski, representing the Polish People's Party's (PPP) foreign affairs section, said cooperation with China on the governmental level or party level would bring more opportunities for both sides.
Though his party sits in opposition in parliament, Ludwikowski said it is "an old friend of China."
The PPP was founded in 1895. "We have been cooperating with the CPC since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1949," he said. "Our party is promoting the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative."
"Poland benefits from the growing ties with China. There is no area in which they can't cooperate," Ludwikowski added.
(Reporting from Bucharest, Romania)
Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar
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