China to keep on path of reform, opening markets China 13:04

Marco Green
July 9, 2018

The summit is part of China's "New Silk Road" bid to boost its influence in Europe through investments and closer economic links.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang today said free trade and worldwide cooperation must be upheld to avoid slowing down the global economy.

China is inviting global banks to finance a project for the construction of a high-speed railway linking Bulgaria's Black Sea coast to Greece's Aegean ports, Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang said on Friday.

"With the contacts that China has with European Union member states, we could accomplish a good project for Belene and [Keqiang] has pledged to get involved personally to help us reach a successful conclusion", Borissov said.

Countries taking part in the summit include the region's European Union states, plus Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

"China wants a prospering Europe and a strong euro".

It marks Li's first tour to Bulgaria after taking office, and also the first visit to Bulgaria paid by a Chinese premier in 18 years.

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

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

More than 1,000 business people from China and central and eastern Europe attended an economic forum alongside the summit, seeking deals in trade, technology, infrastructure, agriculture and tourism.

"The meetings have prompted considerable speculation in Brussels and other European capitals that they are a Chinese effort to "divide and rule" Europeans", a December 2017 report by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) said.

China will stick to the path of opening its markets and other reforms that has lifted its growth, Premier Li Keqiang said on Saturday, a day after the Washington and Beijing slapped tariffs on $34 billion worth of each others' imports.

In May, the Bulgarian energy ministry said that China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) confirmed its interest in the implementation of the Belene NPP project.

Analysts have said Li, who will travel to Germany on Sunday ahead of a wider China-EU summit in Beijing, would avoid any issues that might irk western EU governments.

US President Donald Trump is already threatening additional rounds of tariffs, but it will take weeks or months for the US Trade Representative to review and possibly activate any new rounds of punishment.

"Opening up has been a key driver of China's reform agenda so we will continue to open wider to the world, including widening market access for foreign investors", he said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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