China’s BRI Ventures in Central and Eastern European Nations are Impacted by Russia-Ukraine War

In the wake of the present war condition in Ukraine has relentlessly affected China’s 17+1 initiative’, since most of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) nations have begun to become cautious of overseas powers, involving China.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs formed the 17+1 initiative in 2012 to encourage the business and investment relations between China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) Countries.

Comprehending the uneasiness in the attitude of the CEE government, China sent their two designates to ten nations with the mission to remove the confusion and misinterpretation concerning the Russia-Ukraine war and hold deliberations to reignite their curiosity in the Belt-Road Initiatives, as written by Valerio Fabbri Think-Tank Russian International Affairs Council.

Nevertheless, many CEE countries did not give much prominence to these designates and instead suggested the bureaucrats at the lower level do the discussions with the Chinese delegates. Poland gave the most unfortunate response, where the Chinese officials could not even meet the Polish Foreign Ministry officials.

Even though China constructed the ‘17+1 initiative’ to boost its infiltration into the European region, its collapse to transform investment agreements into concrete and real investment has damaged the development of the grouping.

This year commemorates the tenth launching centenary of the ’17+1 initiative’, however, the majority of the CEE nations have not demonstrated eagerness for marking the ground-breaking year. Additionally, Beijing could not still locate a single CEE country ready to hold the yearly conference.

As per the source, Chinese investment in the CEE nations is constrained to only a few nations such as the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary. China’s investment in CEE countries in 2020, stayed at three percent of its total investment in Europe.

Chinese firms have also not demonstrated much eagerness in making investments in these nations as they are less beneficial. A few of the leading ventures such as Romania’s Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant or Budapest (Hungary)-Belgrade (Serbia) railway endeavour, which could have enhanced China’s image in the CEE region, were either neglected or encountered setbacks.

The association between China and CEE countries weakened further when Beijing began to aim them for falsifying relationships with Taiwan. China even cautioned the Czech Senate President, Milos Vystrcil, for his formal trip to Taiwan in 2020 and stated that he must “pay a heavy price” if he goes to Taipei. Lithuania was also pursued by commercial penalties for its purpose to open the ‘Taiwanese Representative Office’ – as an alternative to using the general title ‘Taipei Economic and Cultural Office’ – in Vilnius in 2021.

Fabbri reported that the lowest possible point in the ’17+1 initiative’ came after Lithuania left the Group in May 2021 after its Parliament approved a declaration accusing China’s management of its Muslim Uighur minority, defining it as a ‘crime against humanity and ‘genocide.

The undercurrents of the entire European region have changed as a result of the continuing Russia-Ukraine war. The US has strengthened its stance in the region by offering aid to Ukraine against Russia, and CEE nations are also located in the surrounding area of Kyiv which made Washington a crucial security patron. The US on the other hand has been emphasising China as a tactical and economic danger that is expected to break European harmony.

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