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EU-China: China tends its East European garden

by host

“A historic visit, billions of euros at stake,” headlines Romanian daily Jurnalul Naţional. A few days after the EU-China Forum held in Beijing on November 21, “the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is in Bucharest for the 3rd China-East and Central Europe Economic Forum, which was attended by 16 countries, the paper explains.

By November 25, Li Keqiang had already attended the signing of 13 trade agreements with Romania worth nearly €8bn in sectors as varied as as “energy, infrastructure, nuclear power, thermoelectric power and rail transport,” reports Jurnalul Naţional.

Following a meeting between Li Keqiang, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán and his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dačić, the Chinese PM also announced that his country had signed an agreement with Hungary and Serbia to modernise the rail link between Budapest and Belgrade, says Hungarian daily Magyar Hirlap. The amount of the contract was not revealed but Viktor Orbán stressed that China was supplying aid that the Eurozone was unable to provide.

The summit between China and the 16 European countries is being held in a “European context that is not relaxed at all,” notes Romanian news web site Curs de guvernare. The site reports that Brussels asked the summit participants to “stay within the limits already negotiated [with Beijing] by the EU,” adding that a European diplomat had explained the situation to a Financial Times correspondent saying, “the meeting in Bucharest is part of China’s strategy of ‘divide et impera’ – [divide and rule] – in order to ratchet up the pressure on Brussels”.

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