BEIJING, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting this week with visiting Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev has reinforced belief in cooperation between China and central and eastern European (CEE) countries.
The economies of China and CEE nations are complementary, and further joint work between them will be a boon to broader China-Europe relations, Chinese academics have said in the wake of the meeting on Monday.
Interviewed on Wednesday, Jin Canrong, deputy head of Renmin University's International Studies College, pointed to "mature" conditions for these two sides to seek win-win results based on their respective strengths.
Xi said during his talks with Plevneliev that China is confident of Europe's prospects, and that cooperation between China and CEE countries is an important component of China-Europe ties.
That echoed previous statements by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in a signed article published by the British Daily Telegraph in November, prior to his official visit to Romania, where he met CEE leaders at a summit.
In the article, Li pledged that China will, as always, firmly support Europe's integration process, underlining that a united, stable and prosperous Europe is in the interests of the world and China.
Before 2008, when the international crisis took its toll on the CEE countries, they were the fastest-growing economies in Europe. Some of them registered an annual growth rate of more than 5 percent.
However, investment in these nations started to shrink after the international financial crisis began in 2008, and then the European debt crisis, prompting "the CEE countries to find new markets beyond the European continent and new economic growth points," said Cui Hongjian, a research fellow on European Union (EU) issues with the China Institute of International Studies.
Despite this drive, business between China and its CEE partners has been proportionally very low. Of the 16 CEE countries, 11 are members of EU. But trade between China and CEE countries only accounts for about 10 percent of the China-EU trade volume.
According to Cui, that points to immense potential in this area, with cooperation between China and CEE countries being a practical choice for everyone involved.
China's capital and its rich experience in infrastructure construction could provide impetus for economic growth in the CEE countries, believes Li Jun, a researcher with the Institute of European Studies under the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
China, by adhering to China-CEE cooperation as an component of consolidating relations with the whole of Europe, also realizes that such joint work will supplement China-Europe ties and aid the development of not just central and eastern Europe but Europe as a whole, he added.
In the process of China-CEE cooperation, China also needs to make it clear that their cooperation is transparent, open and inclusive, Li said.