16+1 conference takes China-Euro ties to next level

World Today

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, left, welcomes Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang on the tarmac of Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017. The Chinese Premier arrived for the 6th Central Eastern European Countries and China (CEEC-China 16+1) Summit to be held the following day in Budapest. (Tibor Illyes/MTI via AP)

Premier Li Keqiang is in Hungary for a gathering of 16 Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) and China. The so-called “16+1” Conference brings together heads of government to foster cooperation and development. CGTN’s Aljosa Milenkovic reports from Budapest.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban greeted Chinese Premier Li Keqiang with a smile and a friendly handshake. The warm welcome comes as both countries expect to sign milestone economic agreements over the next few days.

Before Premier Li’s plane landed, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto held a press conference at the airport. He predicted that this year’s 16+1 meeting will be one of the most productive ever. According to Szijjarto, it is expected that the 16 Central and European countries represented in Hungary will sign 23 agreements with China during the forum, which runs through Wednesday, with the host country leading the group.

Hungary is looking to become a prime economic partner with China in the region. In the first half of 2017, Hungarian exports to China grew 17 percent, compared to the same period in 2016. The total of Chinese investments in Hungary reached $4.1 billion.

Among the projects to be discussed is the Budapest-to-Belgrade high speed railway. China is looking to get past bureaucratic issues and finalize a deal to begin construction on the Hungary portion.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is looking forward to signing a final contract with China on construction of an $800 million coal-fired power plant in the town of Tuzla. Slovenia is hoping to sign a major export deal on agricultural products.

Dan McClory on China’s role in the 16+1 conference

CGTN’s Susan Roberts spoke to Dan McClory about China’s role in the “16 + 1” conference and cooperation between the attending nations. McClory is managing director and head of china analysis at Boustead Securities, a corporate finance and investment firm joined.