Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Song Tao said in Budapest on Thursday that China's relations with countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) can be "an area of growth in China-Europe cooperation as a whole."
In a keynote address at a symposium organized by the Hungarian government on relations between China and Central and Eastern Europe , Song said that "China has always valued its relations with CEE countries."
"We will work together with the greatest sincerity and the utmost efforts to deepen our cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, mutual benefit, equality, and non-interference in each other's internal affairs," he said.
He proposed four ways of strengthening cooperation: further building of mutual trust in the political sphere; the expansion of economic cooperation; strategic coordination in international affairs; and the building of closer bonds via people-to-people contact.
The symposium, which attracted analysts and academics from around CEE as well as China, aimed to identify ways and means for CEE countries to advance relations with China in the political, economic and cultural spheres as well as acting in a more coordinated manner to become more attractive to Chinese investors.
Janos Martonyi, Hungary's Foreign Minister, said that CEE aims to "position itself as a single market" to promote trade development with China.
"In order to facilitate business contacts a firm political will is also needed. The Hungarian government has always maintained excellent links with China, and our dedication has only increased in recent years," he said.
"We are making every possible effort to be more open to the world," Martonyi added. He called the symposium "an important event in the implementation of these policy objectives," adding that rather than "Look East," his government's policy should be called "Act East."
Hungary's National Economy Minister Gyorgy Matolcsy, who was appointed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban as a special commissioner to oversee relations with China, told the audience that Hungary was one of the most politically stable parts of Europe, and that "a new European dream is emerging in CEE from the Baltic to Adriatic seas."
"Both China and CEE belong to the future," Matolcsy said. "We will be the winners of the 21st century," he added.