Academic journal article Global Economic Observer

Romania, Strategic Partner in China-CEE Relations 1

Academic journal article Global Economic Observer

Romania, Strategic Partner in China-CEE Relations 1

Article excerpt

1. Introduction: From a common past, o a common future

In October 2014, China and Romania celebrated 65 years of bilateral diplomatic relations, years of mutual understanding, cooperation and friendship. The recent decades - two and a half for Romania, about three and a half for China - have been some of tremendous and comprehensive changes for both our countries. These deep transformations of the economic fundamentals of China and Romania, their new priorities and alliances have not altered the solid base for win-win bilateral relations, but on the contrary, have reinforced them, through new initiatives within the new framework. The nature of the Sino-Romanian relationship before 1989 was the unique product of its own historical time, impossible to reproduce against the new internal and international background. This relationship is now governed by the EU-China strategic partnership and develops in keeping with the interests of both China and the EU member states, within this new framework.

To date, the bulk of the trade, capital movement and technology flows between China and the EU has been concentrated in the bilateral relationship with several old EU member countries (EU15) - mainly with Germany, France, the UK, and a few others. Still, recently, another group of European countries has distinguished itself in its relation with China. It is the CEE162 group of ex-communist countries, which share several common features and significant competitive advantages as compared to the EU15: a hybrid status, between that of an emerging and a developed economy, which admits a host of development opportunities; higher growth rates and lower labour costs; a considerable endowment with natural resources, educated human capital and technological know-how; sizeable demand for investments in infrastructure, energy, agriculture and certain branches of manufacturing, all of them of interest to China; direct connections with Western Europe and a remarkable potential to become a bridgehead between Europe and other continents, as well as becoming an important link in China's New Silk Road initiative (Pencea, Oehler-Çincai, 2014, Xinhuanet, 2014).

The high level meetings of Budapest (2011), Warsaw (2012) and Bucharest (2013) have opened new perspectives of cooperation between China and the 16 countries of the Central and Eastern Europe (the socalled "16+1" framework). As emphasized in the Bucharest Guidelines for Cooperation between China and the CEE 16 countries, cooperation in various fields - investment, trade, finance, connectivity, science, technology, innovation, environmental protection, energy, people-to-people and cultural exchanges - as well as cooperation at sub-national levels make the priorities of the 17 partners.

The 16+1 platform is an important initiative, with a high potential of generating progress in terms of a better and more intense cooperation between China and CEE, while simultaneously acting as a development engine for the region. What is very important, in our opinion, is that it is not transformed into a framework for a "race to the bottom", where the CEE countries compete with one another for Chinese financing. We think this could ruin its whole concept while, in our view, it is in the interest of both CEE and China that this platform turns into a framework which propels development in the entire region and furthers the relation between China and Europe.

Romania used to be a favoured partner of China's and, in our opinion, under the 16+1 framework it could become again an important market and a leading destination for Chinese investments, for good reasons:

* Romania is a country with a long record of good political, economic, commercial and cultural relations with China.

* In terms of its total surface, Romania is the 2nd largest country in CEE 16 (after Poland) and the 9th largest country in the EU.

* Romania is the 2nd most populous countiy among CEE 16, after Poland and the 7th among EU28, it has skilled, educated and foreign-languages-speaking labour, while the wages are considerably lower than in the rest of Europe. …

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