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28 Apr, 2012

China Sets US$10 Billion Credit Line For Projects in Central, Eastern Europe


WARSAW, April 26 (Xinhua) — China will set up a 10 billion U.S. dollar line of credit to support cooperative projects with central and eastern Europe. Visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced the plan at a China-Central and Eastern Europe business forum here, saying it would accelerate the two sides’ practical cooperation.

Wen said the credit line, which would be partially in the form of preferential loans, would fund projects in the infrastructure, technology and green economy sectors.

Meanwhile, China would also establish an investment cooperation fund, the goal of which was to raise 500 million U.S. dollars, he said. China would also expedite the establishment of economic and technology zones jointly with central and eastern European countries in the coming five years, he said.

Wen said economic and trade cooperation was the most dynamic area in the ties between China and central and eastern European countries and had strong growth potential.

He said trade volume between China and central and eastern European countries reached 52.9 billion dollars in 2011 and had grown 27.6 percent a year on average since 2001, when it was only 4.3 billion dollars.

Growth had continued even after the onset of the global financial crisis, with Chinese imports from central and eastern European countries showing 30 percent average annual growth, he said.

In addition, the two sides enjoyed increasingly active two-way investment, with investment from China covering chemicals, machinery, home appliances, telecommunications, vehicles and new energy, and more recently expanding to agriculture, finance and technology, Wen said.

Moreover, infrastructure cooperation had borne fruit, with a bridge on the Danube in Belgrade a landmark cooperative project, he said.

Wen said people-to-people exchanges had always been an important driving force for ties between China and countries in the region. More and more people in central and eastern European countries had started to learn Chinese, with the number of Confucius institutes and Confucius classes in the area now totaling 58, he said.

In terms of tourism, China received 230,000 tourists from the region, while nearly 75,000 Chinese tourists chose the region as first stop on their European visits. Moreover, 37 Chinese provinces and 58 cities had forged friendships with counterparts in central and eastern Europe, he said.

China would encourage these provinces and cities to give play to their advantages in order to lead bilateral local cooperation, the premier said.

Wen said China would deepen friendship with central and eastern European nations with “maximum sincerity”, and make efforts to further practical cooperation.

Wen said the global economy had improved since the beginning of this year, but the recovery foundation was still fragile with uncertainties. Concerted efforts by the two sides in coping with challenges conformed with each other’s fundamental interests, he said.

Though the countries were unalike in social system, national condition and culture, the differences would by no means change the common aspiration and determination to develop friendship, he said.

Wen called for deepening the friendly relations between China and central and eastern European countries and upgrading the level of bilateral practical cooperation. The two sides should enlarge their cooperation scale, expand their cooperation field, perfect the cooperation mechanism and lay a solid foundation for cooperation, Wen said.

The premier said China was ready to make joint efforts with countries in the region to expand market openness between each other and strive to build bilateral trade to 100 billion U.S. dollars by 2015. The two sides would carry out multi-dimensional cooperation in trade, investment, infrastructure, tourism and other fields, Wen said.

It was necessary for the two sides to hold economic and trade forums and meetings of state leaders regularly, the premier said.

China would set up a China-Central and Eastern European Countries’ Cooperation Secretariat, which would be in charge of communication and coordination, he said. He proposed hosting a cultural cooperation forum next year and more cultural festivals involving individual countries in the region. The premier also proposed strengthening dialogue on educational policy.

Wen said that, although the international economic situation had improved since the start of the year, the foundation for economic recovery remained fragile and uncertain. It was in the fundamental interests of both China and central and eastern Europe to jointly meet the challenges, Wen said.

China would provide 5,000 scholarships to students from countries in the region over the next five years, and invite 1,000 students from these countries to China to learn Chinese, Wen said.

Meanwhile, China would send 1,000 students and scholars to Central Eastern Europe to advance learning and exchanges, he said. China would set up a research fund on ties between the countries with funding of 2 million yuan (317,000 dollars) every year, Wen said.

Wen started his official visit to Poland on Wednesday. Poland is the last leg of a four-nation Europe tour that included visits to Iceland and Sweden and the opening ceremony of the Hannover Fair in Germany.