China and Czech Republic Plan To Expand Central Europe’s Participation in New Silk Road with Xi Visit
March 27, 2016 (EIRNS)—There are high expectations all around about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Czech Republic, which starts March 28. Some 20 agreements are on the table, ranging from cooperation in manufacturing, nuclear power, finance, aviation, nanotechnology and biology, to Chinese assistance in both high-speed rail and the construction of the long-planned Danube-Oder-Elbe Canal.
Proposals for that European canal project, linking the Danube, Oder and Elbe river basins to the North, Black and Baltic Seas, go back to the 17th century. The LaRouche movement identified it as a key part of its proposed Paris-Berlin-Vienna "Productive Triangle" program for global economic reconstruction after the fall of the Berlin Wall. India’s The Hindu appropriately called it today "the merger of the land and maritime hubs of One Belt, One Road." Vojtech Filip, Vice Chairman of the Czech parliament, spoke last week of China jointly funding the construction of the Canal, with both sides investing around EU1 billion in phase one.
Czech President Milos Zeman elaborated on the eve of the visit:
"In Europe, there is a very good communication from the west to the east, but there is no good communication from the north to the south. We need the water corridors, the railways, the highways from the south to the north. And I know that China’s companies are very experienced in this area, and such a long-term investment might present one of the opportunities in the frame of the ‘16 plus 1,’"
China Radio International (CRI) quoted him. ("16 + 1" is the forum of the 16 Central and Eastern Europe countries and China, meeting annually since 2012.)
Zeman would like to see the Czech Republic become a hub for China in the Europe generally, a financial as well as a transport hub, according to CRI. The Bank of China branch which opened last year in the Czech Republic, "might be the banking center of China for all Europe," President Zeman said.
"We have engaged in this project because they offer some participation for Czech building firms. Of course this is an excellent idea, which represents the historical experience, so I think this ‘Silk Road’ might again connect Europe and China."
This is Xi’s first visit to any one of the 16 Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC), and the first visit by a Chinese President to the Czech Republic since diplomatic relations were established (with Czechoslovakia) 67 years ago.