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China paves its latest silk road into Eastern Europe

Four years ago, Beijing reached out to governments in Central and Eastern Europe with a formal offer to boost trade with the region. It set up a 17-member organization comprising 11 countries within the European Union, five still outside it and China itself. Called the China-CEE, or 16-plus-One, it opened a secretariat in Beijing and launched its own investment fund that now has $435 million committed.

     China-CEE holds annual summits. The latest in November was hosted in Suzhou by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang who declared the theme of "New Beginning, New Fields, New Vision" amid a flurry of statistics that trade between China and the CEE had increased more than 50% to $60 billion since 2012.

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