Conference assesses BRI's role in boosting China-CEEC cooperation

An international conference focusing on cooperation between Europe and China within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is held to mark the BRI's 10th anniversary in Sofia, Bulgaria, Sept. 13, 2023. (Xinhua/Liang Jianqiang)

The Belt and Road Initiative is enhancing economic ties between China and Central and Eastern European Countries, with a recent conference in Bulgaria emphasizing Bulgaria's strategic role and the Initiative's effect in globalization.

SOFIA, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been significantly contributing to the improvement of economic ties between China and the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC), scholars and government officials said at a two-day international conference that concluded here on Thursday.

Focusing on cooperation between Europe and China within the BRI framework, the conference was hosted by Bulgaria, itself an active participant in the initiative.

Addressing the conference, Bulgaria's President Rumen Radev stressed the strategic role Bulgaria can play in boosting Europe-China economic ties.

He said that this conference would contribute to the improvement of Bulgaria-China dialogue and cooperation, and that such events are significant in the current complex geopolitical situation.

"The BRI is an initiative that brings us together," Zahari Zahariev, chairman of the Bulgaria National Association for the Belt and Road, said, adding that the BRI is contributing to the process of globalization in the modern world.

Wang Liyong, vice director of the China Center for Contemporary World Studies, said that under the complex circumstances in the world, it is necessary for China and Europe to pursue an in-depth dialogue.

From the Rovinari power plant in Romania to the CATL battery plant in Hungary, China and the CEECs have achieved significant results in trade and investment under the BRI framework, Wang said, noting that two-way investment has reached nearly 20 billion U.S. dollars.

The year 2023 marks not only the 10th anniversary of the launch of the BRI but also the beginning of the second decade of China-CEEC cooperation.

At the third China-CEEC Expo & International Consumer Goods Fair held earlier this year, more than 400 exhibitors from the CEECs and other European countries showcased their products, ranging from agricultural produce, wines and cosmetics to high-end manufacturing and services products.

A visitor selects wine at the China-Central & Eastern European Countries (CEEC) Expo in Ningbo, east China's Zhejiang Province, May 16, 2023. (Xinhua/Huang Zongzhi)

Against the backdrop of rising voices of protectionism and decoupling, China-CEEC cooperation could bring confidence to the world, Wang said.

During the past decade, the BRI has been turned into a well-received international cooperation platform from a blueprint. Today, over 150 countries and 32 international organizations participate in the BRI, China's Ambassador to Bulgaria Dong Xiaojun said.

China has accelerated cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road in the fields of technology and digitalization, and this will bring even more opportunities and create further mutual benefits, Dong said.

Affecting two-thirds of the global population, "this mega project is able to unify the world," said Kypriotelis Efstratios of the University of Ioannina in western Greece.

"The BRI is a project of globalization, for globalization," he said. "It is the road to a global community."

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