Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Finance | By Claude Patterson

China eyes eastern Europe investment as US trade war sizzles

China eyes eastern Europe investment as US trade war sizzles

Li told a summit of eastern European leaders in Sofia that China would open the door wider for foreign products and said free trade needed to be firmly upheld to ensure sustained global economic growth.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will offer the leaders of central and eastern Europe on Saturday expanded business ties at a summit in Sofia while seeking to reassure the European Union that Beijing is not trying to divide the continent.

China has promised billions of dollars for development projects in central and eastern Europe as part of its Belt and Road Initiative to carve out new export markets.

Hours before Washington's deadline for the tariffs was to take effect, U.S. President Donald Trump upped the ante, warning that the United States may ultimately target over $500 billion worth of Chinese goods, or roughly the total amount of U.S. imports from China a year ago.

Friday's long-expected tariff volley fuelled fear that a prolonged and escalating battle would deal a blow to global trade, investment and growth, while also damaging USA farmers who stand to lose revenues and potentially driving up food prices in China. "Same may say that such cooperation may separate the European Union but this is not true", he said after talks with Bulgarian premier Boyko Borisov.

"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.

Li downplayed such concerns, calling views that China is trying create rifts in Europe by pursuing deals with eastern European countries a "misunderstanding".

The project aims to combine road, rail, river and sea transport by linking by rail the Greek cities of Thessaloniki, Kavala and Alexandroupolis to Burgas, Varna and Ruse in Bulgaria and is expected to attract large investors from the Middle East, China, Russia and other major markets, the Bulgarian government said back then.

China will never start a trade war.

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.

"The EU is a very important force for peace and stability and prosperity".

China is also ready to cooperate with Bulgaria in the field of nuclear energy, Keqiang said.

In a world of growing uncertainties, China and Europe see their interests aligned.

Stronger pragmatic and mutual trust and cooperation between China and Germany and between China and Europe could provide stability to the world, Shi said.

Some 18 bilateral agreements and memorandums were signed, but no new major deals were announced.

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