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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Holds a Briefing for Chinese and Foreign Media on Premier Li Keqiang's Travel to Europe for the 21st China-European Union (EU) Leaders' Meeting, the 8th Summit between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) and an Official Visit to Croatia

On April 3, 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a briefing for Chinese and foreign media on Premier Li Keqiang's travel to Europe for the 21st China-European Union (EU) Leaders' Meeting, the 8th Summit between China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) and an official visit to Croatia. Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao introduced the relevant situation and answered questions from Chinese and foreign journalists.

Wang Chao expressed that as agreed by the Chinese side and the European side and at the invitation of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković of Croatia, from April 8 to 12, Premier Li Keqiang will travel to the headquarters of the EU in Brussels for the 21st China-EU Leaders' Meeting and to Croatia for an official visit and the 8th China-CEEC Summit. This is Premier Li Keqiang's first overseas trip this year and also another important high-level exchange between China and Europe after President Xi Jinping's successful state visits to Italy, Monaco and France in late March, which embodies the great importance China's diplomacy attaches to Europe.

I. On the 21st China-EU Leaders' Meeting

Wang Chao expressed that as a high-level platform for strategic communication between China and the EU, China-EU Leaders' Meeting has played an important strategic guiding role in deepening China-EU relations and promoting dialogue and cooperation. This meeting is of important significance in inheriting the past and ushering the future as it is the fifth meeting co-chaired by Premier Li Keqiang and President of the European Council Donald Tusk and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, as well as the last leaders' meeting between China and the EU within the term of office of current EU institutions.

The EU is the most integrated bloc of countries with solid comprehensive strength in today's world, as well as an important strategic force in the international landscape. At present, China-EU relations enjoy a sound development momentum, with intensified bilateral high-level exchanges, constantly deepened practical cooperation, and flourishing people-to-people and cultural exchanges. China and the EU share extensive common interests in deepening practical cooperation featuring mutual benefit and win-win results, hold the same position on safeguarding multilateralism and free trade, and have common goals of improving global governance, maintaining world peace and stability.

During the meeting, leaders of both sides will exchange in-depth views on China-EU relations and major international and regional issues of common concern. They will also witness the signing of cooperation documents in such areas as energy and competition. It is believed that this meeting will inject new impetus into China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, elevate bilateral dialogue and cooperation in various fields to a new stage, and further improve the stability, strategic significance and reciprocity of China-EU relations.

II. On the 8th China-CEEC Summit

Wang Chao said that as a beneficial mechanism for China and CEEC to carry out regional cooperation, China-CEEC cooperation (the 16+1 cooperation) builds a good platform for deepening the traditional friendship between China and CEEC and enhancing mutually beneficial cooperation. Since its launch 7 years ago, the 16+1 cooperation has attracted extensive support and active participation of CEEC, and established an all-round cooperation pattern which covers multiple fields and at a deep level, playing a positive role in promoting economic and trade exchanges between China and relevant countries and expanding practical cooperation in various fields.

The 8th China-CEEC Summit coincides with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, and also the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and some countries in the Central and Eastern Europe, thus carrying important significance for advancing the 16+1 cooperation and the long-term and steady development of China-Europe relations. Leaders of all countries will center around the theme of the Summit, namely "building new bridges of openness, innovation and partnership", to review and summarize the new development of the 16+1 cooperation and discuss the key directions for the work in the next phase in an in-depth way as well as roll out a series of new measures regarding the promotion of practical cooperation in various fields. The Chinese side hopes that, through deepening exchanges and cooperation featuring mutual benefit and win-win results, the 16+1 cooperation will become a bridge of openness, innovation and partnership for China and CEEC.

Relevant outcome documents are planned to be released during the Summit for further planning the development blueprint of the 16+1 cooperation. Parties concerned will also sign cooperation program agreements related to multiple fields such as infrastructure construction, trade, finance, education, quality inspection, facilitation of personnel exchanges and mutual recognition of driving licenses.

The Chinese side believes that under the joint efforts of China and CEEC, the Dubrovnik Summit will surely be a complete success which will push for the upgrade and improvement of the 16+1 cooperation and provide new driving forces for the development of relations between China and CEEC and China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership.

III. On the Visit to Croatia

Wang Chao expressed that as a member state of the EU, an important country of the Central and Eastern European region as well as a crucial stop of the ancient Silk Road, Croatia is committed to promoting the development of China-EU relations. China and Croatia, enjoying traditional friendship, have always respected each other and treated each other as equals. In 2005, the two countries established the comprehensive cooperative partnership. Along with the advancement of the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative and the 16+1 cooperation, bilateral relations have enjoyed rapid development. Both sides have conducted close high-level exchanges and reaped fruitful achievements in areas including economy, trade, investment and infrastructure construction. Croatia is the second largest trading partner of the Chinese side in western Balkans region. Both sides enjoy active people-to-people and cultural exchanges and increasing non-governmental friendship. Bilateral relations face broad development prospects.

Premier Li Keqiang's visit is the first one paid by a Chinese Premier to Croatia since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, which holds important significance for consolidating the traditional friendship between China and Croatia, promoting bilateral comprehensive cooperative partnership and boosting China-EU relations. During the visit, both sides will issue a joint declaration between the two governments, sum up the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and plan bilateral cooperation in various fields. Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković will also witness the signing of inter-governmental cooperation documents and commercial agreements related to many areas. The Chinese side hopes to reinforce the integration of development strategy with the Croatian side, enhance mutual understanding and political mutual trust and deepen practical cooperation in various fields, in a bid to elevate bilateral relations and cooperation to new highs.

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