CHINA and seventeen Central and Eastern European Countries (the 17+1) held a conference on innovation cooperation in Belgrade on October 8, bringing together government officials, companies, and academics.
Over 270 Chinese participants from 11 provinces and 4 municipalities took part in the two-day conference.
The China-CEEC format is regarded with suspicion in Brussels, which sees growing Chinese influence not only within the European Union but in bordering countries.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said at the opening ceremony that Serbia wants to support wider cooperation throughout the CEECs when it comes to the development of artificial intelligence, robotics, and digitalization.
Wang Zhigang, the Chinese minister of science and technology, said that CEECs have long been important partners to China in scientific and technology cooperation.
Serbia is one of China’s most active partners within the 17+1 format.
In her speech to open the event, Brnabic said that Serbia was already seeing the benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative, and pointed to Chinese support in the construction of highways, bridges, and other infrastructure facilities.
Earlier this year, the Serbian government and China Road and Bridge Corporation signed an investment agreement for an industrial park to be established in Belgrade, covering a total of 3.2 square kilometers. It will be a platform for overseas high-tech companies to enter Serbia and the region.