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China’s Long March to Central and Eastern Europe

  • Weiqing Song (a1)


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.



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1.The 16 CEECs include 11 EU member states, namely Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and five non-members of the EU that are all in the Balkans, specifically Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
2. Fürst, R. and Pleschová, G. (2010) Czech and Slovak relations with China: contenders for China’s favour. Europe-Asia Studies, 62(8), p. 1363.
3.Premier Li Keqiang’s talk at a meeting with leaders of the CEECs in Bucharest on 26 November 2016, (accessed 7 October 2016).
4. Zhu, X. (2012) ) Relationships between China and the Central and Eastern European Countries after the Cold War. Eluosi Xuekan (Journal of Russian Studies), (1), p. 49.
5.Xi Jinping’s visit to Serbia, (accessed 10 December 2016).
6. China’s Twelve Measures for Promoting Friendly Cooperation with Central and Eastern European Countries. (accessed 10 December 2016).
7. Premier Li Keqiang Cements New Export Corridor into Europe. (accessed 12 December 2016).
8. Poland to China: you’re fired, (accessed 21 May 2018).
9.Chinese activities in Eastern Europe – success through market-aggressive financing offers. Position Paper, German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, (accessed 12 December 2016).
10. Fox, J. and Godement, F. (2009) A power audit of EU–China relations. Policy Report, European Council on Foreign Relations, London, UK,, page 4-7 (accessed 10 December 2016).
11.Brussels rattled as China reaches out to eastern Europe, Financial Times, (accessed 21 May 2018).
12. European Commission (2016) Elements for a new EU strategy on China. Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council, Brussels, (accessed 19 December 2016).
13. Conley, H.A., Mina, J., Stefanov, R. and Vladimirov, M. (2016) The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe. Center for Strategic and International Studies, (accessed 15 December 2016).

China’s Long March to Central and Eastern Europe

  • Weiqing Song (a1)


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