China’s 16+1 foray into Central and Eastern Europe

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Half a decade after it was launched, the network of cooperation between China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries has brought uneven economical and political fruits so far.

The so-called 16+1 was established in 2012 as Beijing’s initiative to cover various issues such as investment, trade, but also culture or education.

The group includes 11 EU countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia; and five non-EU countries from the Balkans: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

It fits into China’s global strategy to engage new partners in political and economic ties in different formats.

Despite having a permanent secretariat, the Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries – the initiative’s official name – is more a series of bilateral relationships with no overall coherence, as experts pointed out in discussions at the Prague European Summit conference earlier this month.

“It’s not really a multilateral format,” Petr Kratochvil, the director of Prague’s Institute of International Relations, told EUobserver…

Read more : EUObserver, 26.06.2017