China is set to host representatives from 17 Central and Eastern European countries for its latest "17+1" summit on February 9, 2020. What is the significance of this unique regional grouping? This collection of CSIS analysis explains the initiative's development and its significance for the region since its announcement in 2012.
Ties with China appearing to be cooling among Eastern European countries, underscored by high-level visits to Taiwan, and increasing security cooperation with the U.S. on 5G, and spurred by a growing number of failed Belt and Road infrastructure projects, slowing Chinese investment, and growing national security concerns over China's expanding espionage operations, Nikkei reports.
The European Union has opted to let each member nation decide whether to use equipment from China's Huawei Technologies, snubbing American demands to keep the company out of high-speed 5G networks. Brussels calls for security measures but lets each member choose 5G suppliers, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
"China has lavished investment pledges on Balkan states as it prepares for a summit with 16 EU countries and aspiring members, stoking fears in Brussels and influential national capitals of an effort to divide the bloc" reports the Financial Times, citing data collected in collaboration with the CSIS Reconnecting Asia Project.
Quotes and Quotas is a weekly digest of powerful phrases and facts that help explain Asia’s infrastructure push.
A special report by Nikkei Asian Review and The Banker which leverages data from the CSIS Reconnecting Asia Project has found that China's Belt and Road initiative holds considerable promise for countries in need of infrastructure investment along its route, however, participation has been hampered by challenges ranging from a lack of participation by local workers and banks to unmanageable debt hangovers.
Just 10 years ago, regular direct freight services from China to Europe did not exist. Today, they connect roughly 35 Chinese cities with 34 European cities. But despite their rapid advances, these lines must compete with maritime routes that have dominated commerce between Asia and Europe since the late fifteenth century. It remains to be seen how much trade they can capture.
The political damage Chinese investment in the CEE has created for the EU is already visible in its inability to act cohesively vis-à-vis China on trademark foreign policy issues, namely upholding the international rule of law and protecting human rights.
Chinese investments in Central and Eastern Europe are raising concerns about transparency and accountability, but for now, the risks are relatively manageable given the modest scope of investment.
Our “Big Questions” series brings together leading scholars, former policymakers, and top industry experts to tackle critical questions. In the seventh part of this series, we asked a group of experts to comment on China's growing infrastructure investment in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).