Chapter 27: Chinas engagements with Central and Eastern Europe: costs and benefits in the era of the Belt and Road Initiative
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This chapter examines China's interactions with the countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) with a specific reference to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and more closely in relation to the evolving 17+1 platform. Apart from the assessment of the internal dynamics of this multilateral cooperation, the author outlines the costs and benefits of specific bilateral relations. The study highlights varied outcomes and posits that while some activities related to the 17+1 provide new opportunities for socialising and negotiations among the participating states, and aid to the overall materialising of the vision behind the BRI, the individual countries have already been pressured to perform more critical assessments of their increased activity vis-à-vis China by think tanks and governmental institutions. The author focuses on the political, economic and societal relations and draws her conclusions through a comparative assessment of trends in Central Europe, the Baltics ad the Balkans since there are some differences in approaches and outcomes in these respective regions in Europe. The evolving EU policy towards China, driven by the Western European countries, will further put pressure on the EU member states from CEE to consider a stronger alignment with the EU goals and standards when joining new projects under the BRI/the 17+1 collaboration in the future.

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