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China to increase trade with Eastern Europe

Dubrovnik - China pledged to increase trade with Central European countries and provide more financial support for major cross border infrastructure projects to promote regional cooperation

Dubrovnik - China pledged on Friday to increase trade with Central European countries and provide more financial support for major cross border infrastructure projects to promote regional cooperation.

The area is key to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to link China by sea and land with Southeast and Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, through an infrastructure network on the lines of the old Silk Road.

“We hope that ... cooperation (with Central and Eastern European countries) will bring China closer to the European Union,” Prime Minister Li Kequianq said at a summit in the coastal Croatian town of Dubrovnik.

Chinese companies have been active in the Balkans for several years, helping build roads, bridges and other infrastructure. However, construction of the Peljesac bridge in Croatia marks the first time it has undertaken such a project within the EU, which Croatia joined in 2013.

Li arrived in the country on Wednesday, meeting with officials from 16 central European countries: 11 EU members and five Western Balkan states which aspire to join the bloc. This year Greece, where Chinese shipping giant COSCO holds a majority stake in Piraeus Port, joined the group for the first time.

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