BERLIN: China sought to ease Germany’s concerns over New Silk Road project and related initiatives, stressing that they are not intended to undermine the European Union.
Speaking at a joint news conference with his German counterpart Heiko Maas on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China’s “16+1 initiative” with Central and Eastern European countries was aimed at contributing to economic growth, enhancing economic cooperation.
“I would like to underline that we continue to support the integration process in Europe, we want the EU remain united and prosperous,” he said.
Wang also underlined that they shared with Germany the vision of a multipolar world and of global free trade.
“It is not in the interest of China to cause divisions between European states, we do not want to divide Europe,” he stressed.
EU’s heavyweight Germany has been skeptical about China’s “16+1 cooperation”, and senior political figures openly criticized Beijing for seeking political influence with this initiative.
The initiative, which brings together China, 11 EU member states and five Balkan states, has been part of Beijing’s ambitions “One Belt One Road” plan, also referred to as the New Silk Road.
China has significantly increased its investments in the region, since it introduced the One Belt One Road initiative in 2013, which involves grand infrastructure projects to connect Eurasian countries with China.