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China on Central-Eastern Europe: ‘16+1’ as seen from Beijing. OSW COMMENTARY NUMBER 166/15.04.2015

Kaczmarski, Marcin (2015) China on Central-Eastern Europe: ‘16+1’ as seen from Beijing. OSW COMMENTARY NUMBER 166/15.04.2015. [Policy Paper]

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    From the Introduction. In 2012, China approached the countries of Central-Eastern Europe (CEE) with a proposal concerning regional cooperation in the ‘16+1’ formula. According to Chinese analysts, the rationale behind this breakthrough decision was Beijing’s acknowledgment of the growing importance of the region’s states within the European Union as well as a partial elimination of the ideological differences which had hamstrung cooperation in previous years. It seems that the eurozone crisis may be perceived as the reason for the CEE states’ increased interest in developing their cooperation with China. These circumstances have opened a ‘window of opportunity’ which Beijing has decided to exploit to create a kind of bridgehead in the region which it could later use in its further economic expansion in Europe. Apart from opening the CEE region up for investments, the ‘16+1’ format was intended to facilitate the shaping of relations between China and the EU and to become a tool in building a positive image for China. Chinese experts agree that after three years of functioning, the ‘16+1’ regional cooperation format has helped Beijing achieve its goals only to a limited extent. The major obstacles have included: the immense diversification of the region, barriers related to EU law, insufficient expertise on the part of Chinese companies, the asymmetry of economic needs on both sides, and no willingness within the region itself to develop cooperation. Regardless of the limited effectiveness of activities carried out so far, China has continued its ‘16+1’ initiative. This continuation and the progressing institutionalisation of cooperation in the ‘16+1’ format have often seemed superficial. China has been using this multi-party formula to improve its long-term bilateral relations with selected states in the region and thereby to create a basis for Beijing’s political and economic presence in Central-Eastern Europe.

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    Item Type: Policy Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: Countries > China
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) > OSW Commentary
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2015 12:05
    Number of Pages: 8
    Last Modified: 20 Apr 2015 12:05

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