Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

China Charm Offensive in Former Soviet Bloc As Trump Trade War Declared

READ MOREChina US slap on tit-for-tat duties READ MOREChina US slap on tit-for-tat duties
Priscilla Morrison | 09 July, 2018, 12:58

"China does not wish for a trade war with anyone, but will defend free trade rules if necessary", he said, as quoted by a Bulgarian government statement.

Mr Li told a summit with central and eastern European leaders yesterday that China would stick to the path of opening its markets and other reforms that had fuelled its economy, providing opportunities for European Union members and aspirants in the bloc's poorer half.

In addition, the "16+1" platform comprising China and the 16 countries of Central and Eastern Europe is open and inclusive and has always been carried out under the framework of China-EU relations and relevant EU laws and regulations.

The summit is part of China's "New Silk Road" bid to boost its influence in Europe through investments and closer economic links. "China and Europe are geographically far apart from each other and we have different cultures, so when Chinese business people make investments here, they need to have more knowledge of Europe".

The escalating fight between the U.S. and China meant that it could "take economic and political pain to get these two parties to the (negotiating) table", said Professor Scott Kennedy at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"Such a project should be carried out in a transparent way and I invite third parties to participate, for example, global organisations and banks", Keqiang said speaking through an interpreter during a news conference after a meeting with Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov broadcast by Bulgarian TV channel Kanal 3.

Li hurried to downplay Brussels' concerns on Friday.

"It is two-way traffic", Li said through an interpreter.

More news: Iran executes 8 ISIS terrorists behind 2017 attacks in Tehran

Although the US trade war with China wasn't initially on the agenda, it was an unavoidable topic for the host country and its Chinese visitor.

The Sofia summit takes place just weeks ahead of the larger EU-China summit in Beijing, and also amid China's trade battle with the United States. It also includes discussions on maintaining global peace and stability.

In a world of growing uncertainties, China and Europe see their interests aligned.

Some 18 bilateral agreements and memorandums were signed, but no new major deals were announced.

"If Europe is weakened, it will only be bad news for China, not the other way around", Li said.

Stronger pragmatic and mutual trust and cooperation between China and Germany and between China and Europe could provide stability to the world, Shi said.

At the same time, the premier said it was "very important" for Chinese companies to set up factories in the region, noting that Chinese products were popular with consumers.

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