Russia-Ukraine war hits China’s BRI projects

Russia-Ukraine war hits China’s BRI projects. 

Following the prolonged conflict in Ukraine, China’s “17+1 effort” was badly hampered since most CEE nations began to harbor suspicions against outside powers, including China. 

As a result, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs established the “17+1 initiative” in 2012 to improve trade and investment ties between China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) nations. 

According to Valerio Fabbri in Think-Tank Russian International Affairs Council, China sent two delegations to ten countries after recognizing the unease in the CEE government’s stance. 

Their goals were to clear up any misunderstandings regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict and hold talks to reawaken interest in the Belt-Road Initiatives.

However, several CEE nations gave these delegations little weight. They requested that lower-ranking officials speak with the Chinese representatives instead. 

Poland’s answer was the most disappointing since the Chinese team could not even meet with representatives of the Polish Foreign Ministry. 

Although China created the “17+1 initiative” to increase its penetration into the European continent, its inability to fulfill investment commitments has hampered the group’s advancement.

The “17+1 project” celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. However, most of the CEE nations have not shown much interest in commemorating the significant year. 

Beijing also failed to locate a single CEE nation prepared to host the yearly gathering.

The author claims that Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic are the only nations where Chinese investment has been made. 

Additionally, in 2020, 3% of all Chinese investments in Europe were made in CEE nations. 

However, because they are less lucrative, Chinese corporations have not shown much interest in investing in these nations.

Some major initiatives, such as the Cernavoda nuclear power plant in Romania or the Budapest-Belgrade railway project in Serbia, which might have enhanced China’s reputation in the CEE area, were either abandoned or suffered delays. 

Moreover, when Beijing began to single out CEE nations for establishing ties with Taiwan, the situation between China and these nations rapidly worsened.

Even the president of the Czech Senate, Milos Vystrcil, has received warnings from China against visiting Taiwan on official business in 2020, warning that he would “face a severe price” if he does. 

Lithuania was also subject to financial penalties due to its plan to establish the “Taiwanese Representative Office” in Vilnius in 2021 as opposed to the more well-known “Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.”

The “17+1 initiative” reached its lowest point, in Fabbri’s opinion, when Lithuania departed the group in May 2021 after the passage of a resolution by its Parliament denouncing China’s treatment of its Muslim Uighur minority as a “crime against humanity” and “genocide.” 

Moreover, the dynamics of the whole European area have shifted due to the current Russia-Ukraine war. The US has strengthened its standing in the area by backing Ukraine against Russia. 

As CEE nations are also located close to Kyiv, Washington has become a crucial security guarantee. 

We also emphasize China as a geopolitical and economic danger that might destabilize European unity.