China is ready to consider “vaccine co-operation” with Central and Eastern European countries, President Xi Jinping said Tuesday in a meeting held by video link with European leaders.
Serbia has received one million doses of a Chinese-developed coronavirus vaccine, and Hungarian and Chinese vaccine developers are co-operating, Mr. Xi said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Beijing will “actively consider such co-operation” with other governments, Xinhua quoted the President as saying during the China-CEEC summit.
Two vaccines made by state-owned developers, Sinopharm and Sinovac, have received conditional approval from China. Deals to supply millions of doses have been reached with Turkey, Hungary and at least eight other foreign countries.
Beijing is trying to nurture relations with Central and Eastern European governments as part of efforts to expand markets for exports and for Chinese construction and other companies to operate abroad.
The focus on Eastern Europe through the China-CEEC group, also known as “17 plus 1,” has prompted unease among France, Germany and other Western European governments that Beijing is trying to make political inroads into the European Union.
Addressing Tuesday’s meeting remotely, Polish President Andrzej Duda said the best way to help economies rebound after the pandemic would be to expand trade. Poland so far has not opted to secure the Chinese vaccines.
“We have this expectation that the co-operation within our 17+1 format will start bringing measurable and bilateral benefits in the area of economy, and first of all in the form of higher exports to China of goods and services from Central and Eastern Europe and in the form of a greater inflow of Chinese greenfield investments,” Mr. Duda said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Xi said China intends to import farm and other goods worth more than US$170-billion from Central and Eastern Europe over the next five years, according to Xinhua.
Beijing is trying to develop new trade relationships and reduce reliance on the United States following a tariff war with Washington.
“We need to deepen agricultural co-operation,” Mr. Xi said, according to Xinhua.
Mr. Xi also expressed support for plans by Fudan University in Shanghai to establish a university in Hungary.
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