China’s Belt and Road Initiative Extension to Central and Eastern European Countries - Sixteen Nations, Five Summits, Many Challenges

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Abstract

The Belt and Road Initiative proclaimed by President Xi in 2013, a strategy developed by the Chinese government, is very important to China but is not confined to China. In order for the initiative to be successful it needs to be embraced by the countries on the terrestrial and maritime route indicated in the plan. In the late 1980s Deng Xiaoping proposed to integrate Socialism with Chinese Characteristics (Zhongguo Tese Shehui Zhuyi, ) into global capitalism and in the 1990s the Jiang Zemin leadership initiated the Going out policy (Zouchuqu Zhanlue, ) – the current Belt and Road Initiative is China’s continuation in implementing those policies into actual deeds. China’s accession to WTO in 2001 marked China’s full integration into the global economy and since then the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has become the largest trading partner for more than 180 countries. The Xi-Li administration has been extremely proactive since it was established in 2012; from that year on, Chinese behavior in international affairs has gained an ever-growing role as a forger of economic and diplomatic ties between countries. The primary example of this behavior is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). As every serious foreign policy plan, the BRI is an accumulation of various other initiatives. For example, the cooperation mechanism “16+1”, with which the PRC has approached Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC), can be integrated under the BRI. This paper analizes the “16+1” China-CEEC cooperation mechanism in the context of the bigger BRI initiative, and tries to comprehend the economic and political factors intertwined with its implementation.

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