Serbia is a hub for a wide range of Chinese economic activity in the Western Balkans, as previous CSIS research has indicated. This report, the second in a series, examines Serbia in greater detail to shed more light on China’s political and economic objectives, its mechanisms for influence, and the implications of its activities, including a second wave of digital infrastructure projects.
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As China’s funding for infrastructure and other investments expands along its Belt and Road Initiative, its economic and political influence is growing in the Western Balkans, a strategically contested area on the EU’s periphery. This report, part of a two-year effort to track Chinese economic influence in the region, draws from a new CSIS dataset to identify key trends, including China’s geographic and sectoral priorities, low project completion rates, and an emerging second wave of digital investments.
European firms seeking to participate in China’s Belt and Road Initiative face rising hurdles while Chinese state-owned companies are successfully pricing out their European competitors… A push for greater transparency and reciprocity along the BRI could help level the playing field.
China’s economic footprint and political avenues of influence in the Western Balkans have deepened and widened through its 17+1 format and the Belt and Road Initiative with profound implications for the region’s economic development and long-term dependency.