Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries

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Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (China-CEE, China-CEEC, also 17+1, formerly 16+1) is an initiative by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to promote business and investment relations between China and 17 countries of CEE (CEEC)Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.[1][2]


The format was founded in 2012 in Warsaw to push for cooperation of the "17+1" (the 17 CEE countries and China). The 17+1 meet annually; summits were held in Dubrovnik (2019), Sofia (2018), Budapest (2017), Riga (2016), Suzhou (2015), Belgrade (2014), Bucharest (2013) and Warsaw (2012). The China-CEE secretariat is in Beijing, with 17 "national coordinators" in each of the partner CEE countries.[3]

The format's goals are to promote the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and enhance cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, transportation and logistics, trade and investment".[4][5] These goals are supported by "growing ties in the areas of culture, education and tourism ... cultural exchanges, think tanks and NGOs."[4]

Infrastructure, investment and trade[edit]

This includes (as of 2017) Serbia's E763 Highway project, the Budapest-Belgrade railway and the China-Europe land-sea express line. In Croatia, a contract to build the first phase of the Peljesac bridge and its access roads, signed by a Chinese consortium led by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC). In Poland, the acquisitions of Huta Stalowa Wola civil engineering machinery division and KFLT Bearings Poland by Chinese companies. According to China Customs’ statistics, China's trade volume with CEEC totaled $67.98 billion in 2017, a 15.9 percent increase compared to that of 2016.[4] According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, in 2016 China-CEE trade increased to $58.7 billion (from $43.9 billion in 2010), while its investment in CEE countries has accumulated to more than $8 billion, covering industries such as machinery, chemical, telecom and new energy.[5]

Cultural links[edit]

From 2012 to 2017 six new direct flight routes between China and CEEC have been opened, the number of Chinese tourists visiting CEEC increased from 280,000 to 930,000, and the number of exchange students doubled as well[provide figures]. A China-CEEC Coordination Center for Cultural Cooperation was opened in North Macedonia. In China, the China-CEEC training center for young artists and China-CEEC Cultural and Creative Industries Exchanges and Cooperation Center were opened in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

Issue of human rights in China[edit]

On 6 October 2020, a group of 39 countries, including 11 CEE countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia), and other most of the EU member states, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Canada, Haiti, Honduras, and Japan, made a statement at the United Nations to denounce China for its treatment of ethnic minorities and for curtailing freedoms in Hong Kong.[6]


China says the initiative is a ‘win–win’ cooperation for the countries involved and the EU. Jeremy Garlick, an assistant professor at the Prague University of Economics and Business, raised the view that China is pursuing an assertive strategy of ‘divide and conquer’ designed to benefit China at Europe's expense.[7] This view has been challenged however, including by the European Commission, European Parliament, and several scholars, who view EU-Chinese relations as mutually beneficial.[8][9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Chinese '16+1' Initiative to Be Called '17+1' after Greece Joins Group". N1. April 13, 2019. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  2. ^ Introduction of the Secretariat for Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries, on the web (2013/11/20)
  3. ^ National Coordinators on the web
  4. ^ a b c ‘16+1’ mechanism set to bolster China-Europe ties, on the web (2018/07/10)
  5. ^ a b Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern Europe: Promising Start, Doubtful Outlook, by Ágnes Szunomár, China-US Focus, December 6, 2017
  6. ^ Heusgen, Christoph. "Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen on behalf of 39 Countries in the Third Committee General Debate, October 6, 2020". Archived from the original on 7 October 2020. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
  7. ^ China’s Economic Diplomacy in Central and Eastern Europe: A Case of Offensive Mercantilism?, by Jeremy Garlick, Europe-Asia Studies, online September 2019
  8. ^ Directorate General for External Policies of the Union (May 2020). "EU-China trade and investment relations in challenging times" (PDF).
  9. ^ European Commission, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (2019-03-12). "EU-China – A strategic outlook" (PDF).
  10. ^ Cihelková, Eva; Nguyen, Hung Phuoc; Wožniaková, Mária; Straková, Radka (2017-06-30). "The EU-China Comprehensive Stategic Partnership in Context of EU General Concept of the 'Strategic Partnership'" (PDF). Journal of Security and Sustainability Issues. 6 (4): 729–744. doi:10.9770/jssi.2017.6.4(17).


External links[edit]