* Decision to replace Premier Li Keqiang at annual meeting reflects Beijing’s increased focus on Europe amid rising tensions with US, sources say
* Xi expected to deliver a keynote speech and meet heads of state from across Central and Eastern Europe at April event
Chinese President Xi Jinping will replace Premier Li Keqiang as host of this year’s Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries meeting, sources said, in a sign of the greater significance Beijing now gives to its links with Europe
amid a growing rivalry with the United States.
Invitations for the event – launched by Beijing in 2012 and better known as the “17+1” for the 17 European nations that take part – were sent to European leaders in Xi’s name, according to diplomats who have seen them.
One source, who declined to be named, said Xi was expected to deliver a keynote speech at the summit, which is set to take place in April in the Chinese capital, and meet the visiting dignitaries.
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WNU Editor: Many of the countries that will attend this Chinese sponsored summit have huge trade deficits with China. I am not sure on what they are expecting from Beijing, because China’s policy is to increase its trade with these countries even more.