China's Premier Li Keqiang shakes hands with his Croatian host, Andrej Plenković (Photo: Ivo Cagalj/PIXSELL) China's Premier Li Keqiang shakes hands with his Croatian host, Andrej Plenković (Photo: Ivo Cagalj/PIXSELL)

"We welcome openness and we want to treat all companies that operate in China equally and to increase imports from the European countries," siad China's Pemier Li Keqiang, adding, "China is open to the world. We welcome two-way openness."

The summit, part of China’s 16 Plus 1 initiative, has established new ties and projects, said Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic at the start of the meeting.

“I am pleased that many countries signed agreements with Chinese partners today. This is the continuation of a good practice that we've established at these summits. In Croatia's case, we are very pleased that we've signed about a dozen agreements plus many more in the private sector,” Plenković said.

He also announced Greece would be joining the initiative. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was also in attendance, making it 17 Plus 1.

In his closing remarks, Premier Li declared the summit a success.

"It shows that we are united in our multilateral-relations as we strive to achieve free trade," Li said.

With more than 450 companies and over 1,000 participants, a business forum taking place at alongside the summit is the largest one yet associated with the 16 Plus One initiative. Although China is Europe's second largest market and Europe is China's largest market, the countries of Eastern Europe benefit less from the relationship than their Western neighbors.

Over the past decade, the 16 Plus One initiative has increased the exports from Eastern and Central Europe to China five-fold, according to Prime Minister Plenković. The PM said Croatia's geographical position made it a Mediterranean gateway to Europe. Croatia has built new roads, modernized its airports and planned to invest 3 billion euros in modernizing two major seaports and its railways, Plenković said. Croatia's cooperation with China received a major boost when China's Road and Bridge Corporation was selected in 2018 to build the Pelješac Bridge, Croatia's largest strategic infrastructure project.