This essay provides a timely account of China’s recent initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), centring on the ‘16+1’ format. It discusses China’s motivation in this part of Europe in relation to its ‘Go Global’ policy and, more recently and relevantly, the ‘One Road, One Belt’ initiative. It argues that China has made big efforts to strengthen its presence in CEE through state-driven commercialism. While there have been some meaningful outcomes, particularly in building institutional ties, China’s ambition in the CEE region faces some practical and deep-rooted obstacles. Put succinctly, there is still a long way to go before China becomes a mature global power.