SOFIA, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday called for deepening open and pragmatic cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) to promote common prosperity and development.
Li made the call when attending the seventh China-CEEC leaders' meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, hailing the open, effective and inclusive nature of the 16+1 mechanism as well as its fruitful achievements.
"It has created a new model of multilateral open cooperation," Li said.
The cooperation mechanism has consolidated the foundation for mutual trust and realized mutual benefit for both sides, and meanwhile helped promote the development of China-EU relations, he said.
Li said that at this year's annual meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a firm signal that China will expand its opening to the outside world.
"Looking into the future, China will continue to adhere to the path of peaceful development, unswervingly pursue an open strategy of mutual benefit and win-win results, and work with other countries to build a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind," said the premier.
"Countries are welcome to board China's economic express to share opportunities of China's development," he added.
For the future development of the 16+1 mechanism, Li proposed both sides jointly safeguard economic globalization and free trade, maintain a rules-based multilateral trading system, oppose unilateralism and protectionism, and vigorously promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.
He suggested more CEE countries participate in the construction of various forms of industrial parks according to their own advantages, and foster fresh force for innovation cooperation.
Financial cooperation should be enhanced to open up more investment and financing channels for the 16+1 cooperation to solve financing difficulties, according to Li. He invited CEEC financial institutions to launch branch offices in China for business.
The premier also called for upgrading local cooperation and stepping up cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two sides.
The CEEC leaders fully acknowledged the fruitful achievements of the 16+1 cooperation and spoke positively of the cooperation initiatives proposed by Li.
All parties agreed that the 16+1 cooperation is not a geopolitical tool, but a pragmatic cooperation platform where cooperation is carried out in accordance with EU rules. It will benefit both China and the CEEC and facilitate Europe's integration process, thus being conducive to strengthening rather than weakening the EU.
The parties expressed their willingness to continue to uphold the notion of open cooperation, equal consultation, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation, strengthen cooperation in the areas of economy, trade, investment, transportation, energy, tourism, education, and between local areas to maintain multilateralism and free trade, and oppose protectionism, so as to promote the 16+1 cooperation for new progress.
After the meeting, Li joined Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, host of the 7th China-CEEC leaders' meeting, and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic of Croatia, the next host country, in a press conference.
China and CEEC jointly issued an guideline for their cooperation, and the leaders witnessed the signing of more than 20 cooperation documents. Li and Borissov also unveiled the China-CEEC agricultural demonstration zone.