China, Romania seal deals
Updated: 2013-11-26 00:51
By ZHAO YINAN in Bucharest, and LI XIAOKUN and LI JIABAO in Beijing (China Daily)
Premier Li Keqiang attends a welcoming ceremony with his Romanian counterpart Victor Ponta on his arrival at Bucharest airport in the Romanian capital on Monday. YAO DAWEI / XINHUA
High-speed railway link to be built with Chinese technology
Romania is planning to build a high-speed railway using Chinese technology, the two countries announced on Monday.
The move is part of the cooperation plans being signed in Bucharest, the Romanian capital, as Premier Li Keqiang visits the country.
Working groups were to continue to discuss details of the pact on Monday along with other plans for infrastructure construction. "The value of the final deals will surely surprise us all," Li said.
Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said that if his country's high-speed rail project goes ahead smoothly it will become a showcase for other countries in Central and Eastern Europe and hopefully lead to more deals.
Li and Ponta also witnessed the signing of a number of memorandums of understanding. Under these, the two countries will work on nuclear reactors and power plant projects and facilitate shipments of pork and beef from Romania to China.
Li arrived in Bucharest on Monday afternoon to begin a four-day visit and attend a trade and economic forum with leaders from Central and Eastern European countries.
Ponta received Li at the airport, where a traditional welcoming ceremony was held.
On his Romanian trip, the first to the country by a Chinese premier in 19 years, Li is accompanied by the heads of more than 200 major Chinese public and private companies.
In a recent interview with Xinhua News Agency, Ponta said Romania not only expects China to make Central and Eastern Europe the gateway to the European Union, but also aims to become China's special partner in the region.
Two-way trade reached $3.27 billion in the first 10 months of this year, according to China's Ministry of Commerce. China is Romania's second-largest imports source outside the EU.
Romania is a leading destination for China's investment in Central and Eastern Europe, with accumulated investment reaching $160 million.
On Tuesday, Li will attend the Bucharest summit of leaders in the region.
Xing Guangcheng, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the visit shows that Central and Eastern Europe has become a new highlight on China's diplomatic agenda.
"China and the 16 countries might sign documents to draw a framework to guide the strategic 16+1 cooperation. I expect breakthroughs in that regard," Xing said.
It will be the first time that Li has met most of his counterparts from Central and Eastern European countries since he took office in March.
Xing said China's closer ties with the region will help boost its links with Europe as a whole.
"China is building a complete framework for its economic cooperation with all of Europe," Xing said.
Economic analyst Razvan Orasanu was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying, "Developing a partnership with Central and Eastern Europe is a logical option for China, first because it gives it access to major sea ports such as Constanta (Romania) and Burgas (Bulgaria) as a safe route for its exports.
"Moreover, the countries in the region are registering high growth rates, while regulations in terms of labor or visas are less strict" than in Western Europe, he added.
Ni Zugen, chairman of Lexy Electric Appliances Co, said low labor costs in the region are attractive.
The monthly salary of a worker in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, is about $600, but the comparable salary in Eastern Europe is about $500, he said.
"As the yuan keeps appreciating, we may move factories from China to Eastern Europe."
Cui Hongjian, director of European studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said: "Central and Eastern Europe is growing into an emerging market. China is eyeing the medium- and long-term prospects."
He said the region needs overseas investment to improve its infrastructure, transportation and energy sectors as China boosts domestic enterprises for overseas investment.
"If both sides can seize the opportunities, economic cooperation between China and Central and Eastern Europe has very bright prospects," Cui said.
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