China, Central and Eastern Europe see growing effective cooperation
Dai Mingyou owns a home furniture manufacturing company in Fuyang, east China's Anhui Province. With the Spring Festival holiday approaching, Dai's staff are working around the clock to deliver a pile of export orders, mainly from the central and east European countries (CEECs).
"Germany used to be the major export destination of our products, but now countries in central and eastern Europe such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia account for half of our exports," said Dai.
Established in 2013, Dai's company has grown steadily by producing and selling exquisite wood and rattan furniture. Its exports reached 20 million US dollars in 2020, with one-fifth of its exports being sold to Poland.
"Our first deal with a Polish client encountered some twists and turns, yet both sides showed sincerity and honesty in solving problems," recalled Dai.
After that, Dai and his Polish counterpart became buddies. The number of his Polish clients has grown to 20, and he has developed a Polish branch for his company, which will start operating as soon as COVID-19 is under control there, he said.
The cooperation between Anhui and CEECs has been increasing in recent years, with six friendly inter-provincial relations established between the two sides, according to the provincial government. This trend has also been seen in other parts of China.
Despite the COVID-19-induced economic depression in most of the world, total trade between China and CEECs was up 8.4 percent in 2020 to hit 103.45 billion US dollars, crossing the 100-billion-dollar mark for the first time, according to data from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
Since the establishment of the cooperation mechanism between the two sides in 2012, China's direct investment in 17 CEECs totaled 3.14 billion dollars by the end of 2020, covering energy, infrastructure, logistics, automobile parts and other sectors.
Meanwhile, the 17 countries invested 1.72 billion dollars in China during the period.
The ministry's data also shows that the China-Europe freight train service saw some 12,400 train trips throughout 2020, with key passages and destinations including Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Slovakia.
The freight train service has become the lifeline of anti-epidemic response and the supply line of the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as built a road of friendship and prosperity between China and CEECs, Lin Songtian, president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, remarked at the fifth China-CEECs local leaders' meeting held on February 5 in Shenyang, capital of northeastern China's Liaoning Province, via video link.
Through the service, Bulgaria's yogurt, Poland's milk, Hungarian wine and Greek olive oil arrived in various parts of China to enrich Chinese people's dining tables, said Lin.
According to Lin, China and CEECs have established 212 pairs of friendly provincial and municipal relations, which have promoted cooperation in various fields and enhanced mutual understanding and friendship between people.
The encouraging achievements in cooperation speak volumes about the huge potential of complementarity between the two sides, said Huo Yuzhen, China's special representative of China-CEECs Cooperation.
Liu Ning, the governor of Liaoning Province, said at the meeting that sea-rail cargo routes linking Liaoning and Europe pass through 12 cities in five countries in central and eastern Europe, and the province's trade volume with 17 CEECs hit 2.89 billion dollars in 2020.
Croatia's Zadar County and China's Hainan Province signed an agreement to establish friendly relations in December 2019. Zadar County Prefect Bozidar Longin said via a video link that Zadar County actively supports the Belt and Road Initiative.
The China-CEECs cooperation mechanism provides a solid foundation for the local governments of the two countries to realize regional economic development, enabling the two sides to carry out specific cooperation projects by sharing knowledge and experience, he added.