The Geopolitical Role of China in the CEE Region

Author: Levente, Horváth (2020). The Geopolitical Role of China in the CEE Region. In: Contemporary Chinese Political Economy and Strategic Relations: An International Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2, Aug/Sept. 2020, pp. 617-651. –

In 2018, China celebrated the 40th anniversary of the “Reform and Opening” policy. 40 years ago, China began to build new international relationships and facilitated Chinese companies for stepping out on the international arena, as well as encouraged Chinese students to study abroad. In 2019, the country celebrated the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China and also celebrated the 70th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations with several Central and Eastern European countries. Although China had friendly ties with the countries of the CEE region since 1949, the formal multilateral relations of the 16+1 cooperation network was only established in 2012, while various forms of multilateral cooperation has already existed between these countries from the 1990s and early 2000s onwards. Western Europe looks at China’s regional expansion in Central and Eastern Europe with concern and refers to the 16+1 cooperation as a Trojan horse fearing of the possible division of Europe or of that China might buy political influence. In my study, I make a comparison of the China-CEE cooperation with other multilateral networks in terms of Chinese FDI and Chinese foreign policy in order to consider 16+1 cooperation in the multilateral relations system of China. Furthermore, I compare the amount of Chinese FDI to European countries in order to quantify the Chinese presence in the CEE region. With these comparisons, I am searching for what are the real concerns about China’s presence in the region and how important is the China-CEE cooperation for China.

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