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THINK.

October 1st, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
HOW CAN THE EU AND CEE COUNTRIES ADDRESS
THE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES CREATED BY
REGIONAL AND BILATERAL CEEC-CHINA
COOPERATION IN THE CONTEXT OF THE 16+1
PLATFORM?

THE RESEARCH IS PERFORMED BY SABINA CARLI, NINA PEJIČ AND FARIS KOČAN ON
BEHALF OF THE CENTRE FOR EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE (CEP).

CONTEXT
Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) included in the  “16+1 Platform” are
lacking a foreign policy strategy towards China, both at the national and regional
level. The EU is also lacking its own comprehensive strategy to address the influence
of China in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
A challenge in the existing literature is the scarcity of comprehensive academic
assessments of the relations between the CEEC and China.
The goal of this research is to propose recommendations for an overarching
coordinated political response to Chinese actions in the CEE region. The
recommendations are focused on addressing opportunities and threats stemming
out of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for the individual CEE countries, for the CEE
region as a Platform, and for the EU as a unit.
The study enables the CEE and the EU to coordinate their foreign policy on China to
strengthen their strategic position in relation to the BRI.
The study provides analytical support to business and financial decision-makers, as
well as advances the political and academic discourse on the future of relations
between the CEEC, the EU, and China.
SCENARIOS
So far the research team has developed four scenarios to illustrate a spectrum of possible
future developments allowing policy-makers to make informed strategic decisions and
anticipate surprises.

The four scenarios are built around a total of eleven hypotheses, focused on:

Results of the 16+1 Platform


Importance of the CEE
region for China
Benefits of the 16+1 Platform
for the CEEC, the EU and
China
The 16+1 Platform in relation
to Europe (its strategic
importance for the future
cohesion and cooperation in
Europe and EU).

EYES WIDE SHUT POWER SHIFT


HYPOTHESES HYPOTHESES

The CEE region is of strategic importance for The 16+1 platform has delivered political results and

China. benefits according to the expectations of the CEECs.


The 16+1 Platform benefits China to improve the
The 16+1 platform has not delivered sufficient
perception of global actor.
results for the CEECs.
The 16+1 Platform improves the quality and efficiency
The 16+1 Platform is a threat to the cohesion and of bilateral cooperation between China and CEEC.
stability of the EU. The 16+1 Platform is complementary to multilateral
cooperation in Europe.

FRIENDS IN NEED ROCKY ROSE


HYPOTHESES HYPOTHESES
The 16+1 Platform brings results but does not fulfil the
expectations of the CEECs.
The 16+1 platform has not delivered sufficient results for Subregions of the CEE region represent different strategic
goals, comparative advantage and serve different
the CEEC region.
objectives of Chinese foreign policy towards Europe,
The 16+1 Platform is not of strategic importance for the following regionalization with Chinese characteristics.
The 16+1 Platform benefits the European Union as it helps
future cohesion or cooperation in Europe to promote the balanced regional development of the EU.
The 16+1 Platform is complementary to multilateral
cooperation in Europe.
HYPOTHESES & EVIDENCE

EYES WIDE SHUT: Strong relations / Weak results

I asked some of the town's residents to share their tips on


how to give casual pieces an elegant spin.

FRIENDS IN NEED: Weak relations / Weak results


HYPOTHESES & EVIDENCE

ROCKY ROSE: Strong results / Weak relations

I asked some of the town's residents to share their tips on


how to give casual pieces an elegant spin.

POWER SHIFT: Strong results / Strong relations


HIGHLIGHTS
HIGHLIGHTS
The EU is still considered as the main The looseness of EU-China deal led to
(foreign policy) priority for the a strengthening of bilateral relations
countries of the Western Balkans between CEE countries and China
Relations with China are therefore of The EU strategy towards China lacks

secondary importance. joint strategic priorities, joint

Examples of Macedonia which is planning and collective action

devoting all of its foreign policy EU member states mainly pursue


their own bilateral strategies, as is
resources to join the EU and NATO,
the case with CEEC-China relations
and to manage its neighbourhood
There is a demand for a common EU
relations
strategy on China as shown by
Example of Bosnia and
Latvian Minister for Foreign Affairs
Herzegovina’s internal political
overture to use the opportunity of
struggle is the main driver for a
bilateral relations to further EU-
limited interest for Chinese investors
China strategic dialogue (Ministry for
(Vangeli, 2017, p.3; Lagazzi and Vit,
Foreign Affairs, 2018).
2018, p. 6).

INDIVIDUAL COUNTRY REFLECTIONS

Hungary and Serbia are the most active in the 16+1 Platform, but Bulgaria is the

only country to have a liaison office for cooperation with China within the

PlatformBilateral connections of CEE countries with China are getting stronger, due to the very loose d
China and the EU. The EU’s strategy towards China lacks manageable common strategic prior
The Visegrad Group (except Poland) is advancing also soft (cultural) cooperation
could be pursued collectively. Instead, EU member states mainly pursue their own bilateral st
latter is seen in the case of relations between the CEE countries and China. This is seen in the
with China, while Romania and Albania have a historical ideological bond with
where the Minister for Foreign Affairs said that they want to enhance the overall relations that
China due
theto communism
strategic dialoguebut do not
between theutilize
EU andit.
China (Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2018).

Bosnia and Herzegovina will most probably not be of further interest to China,

due to the rigid division of the internal structures of the country and the

consequential unreliability of the governance system.


ANNEX A.
REFERENCES
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https://www.merics.org/sites/default/files/2018-
02/GPPi_MERICS_Authoritarian_Advance_2018_1.pdf

Berzina-Cerenkova, U. A. (2018). China’s New Role in the Baltic Seas. Available


at https://www.fpri.org/article/2018/01/chinas-new-role-baltic-states/

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https://china.usc.edu/dai-bingguo-“adhere-path-peaceful-development”-dec-6-
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Bojkov, Victor D. 2003. Democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Post-1995


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Hackaj, A. (2017). China in Europe: A View from the Balkans. Available at


http://www.16plus1-thinktank.com/u/cms/cepen/201802/281459352q2e.pdf

Hanemann, T., and Houtari, M. (2018). Chinese FDI in Europe in 2017. Available
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Lagazzi, A. and Vit, M. (2017). The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Chinese
influence in the Western Balkans. Prague: Institute for European Policy.
ANNEX A.
REFERENCES

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Budapest Business School.

NED. (2017). Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence. Available at


https://www.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Sharp-Power-Rising-
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Ping, H., and Zuokui, L. (2017). The Cooperation between China and Central and
Eastern European Countries (16+1): 2012–2017. Available at http://16plus1-
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Stumvoll, M., and Flessenkemper, T. (2018). China’s Balkans Silk Road: Does it
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Palgrave Macmillan.

Vangeli, A. (2017). China’s Engagement with the Sixteen Countries of Central,


East and Southeast Europe under the Belt and Road Initiative. China and World
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CONTACT
Ingo Mayr-Knoch (CEO) Sarra Ben Hamida (Research)
ingo.mayrknoch@webuildeurope.eu sarra.benhamida@webuildeurope.eu