The People’s Republic of China created the 16+1 cooperation (now 17+1) to boost political and economic relations with the former members of the Eastern bloc in 2011. The EU and some of its Western European member states have been highly suspicious and critical of the initiative from the very beginning, since according to their assessment the main aim of China was to divide and rule the EU itself through its influence in the CEE countries. According to suspicions Beijing tries to gain political leverage and influence, and it offers investment and business opportunities in exchange. Although most of the Chinese promises on investment have never been truly fulfilled, some governments and political and business elites have become obsessed with China, and political leaders enthusiastically spread good news about the cooperation between their countries and Beijing.
One of the major reasons for the success of the pro-China narrative is the lack of reliable information on the actual amount of Chinese investments in the countries concerned. CEE governments have been actively promoting and advertising the potential of the PRC’s investment in their respective countries, but as a matter of fact, most of these promises have never materialised. Still, the public seems to believe that China has invested heavily in the CEE region, while official statistics are either not available or highly ambiguous.
Our goal is to create region-wide cooperation of China experts and to gather reliable data on the actual amount and nature of Chinese investment in CEE, and to disseminate the real, sobering numbers, and thus to readjust the current discourse.
Disclaimer: The conclusions and recommendations included in the report do not necessarily represent the position of RISAP, which was not institutionally involved in this project.