Cooperation between China and its 16 partner nations in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region has been a subject of strong criticism since its very inception in 2011. European Union institutions – and many of western EU member states – assumed that the real intention of Beijing was to divide and rule Europe through the 16+1 (now 17+1) cooperation, and that some of the 16 countries were ready to sell political favours in exchange of economic gains. Meanwhile, Beijing and the CEE countries have emphasised the pragmatic nature of their cooperation, and that it only focuses on economic issues. Following the 16+1 summit which took place in Dubrovnik in April, I believe it is due time to face the fact that none of the above-mentioned narratives can correctly describe the reality.
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Photo: Emerging Europe