This report, the third in a series on Chinese economic activities in the Western Balkans, provides recommendations for U.S. and partner responses to China’s growing economic and political influence in the region and a “red flags” checklist to help identify activities that warrant further scrutiny.
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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.
Reconnecting Asia tracks infrastructure developments across Eurasia, a vast landmass that includes 60 percent of the global economy. Every day, new projects are announced; some advance, while others encounter obstacles. Here is a selection of projects and trends we will be following in 2019.
“China has lavished investment pledges on Balkan states as it prepares for a summit with 16 EU countries and aspiring members, stoking fears in Brussels and influential national capitals of an effort to divide the bloc” reports the Financial Times, citing data collected in collaboration with the CSIS Reconnecting Asia Project.
In the past decade, China has opened an investment bridgehead and is building a transport network in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. The level of engagement by Chinese state-owned companies, political leaders, diplomatic representatives, lending institutions, universities, and cultural organizations is gradually redefining the relationships between China and these regions of Europe.