China’s inroads into the Balkans

Amine Bennis on how Europe is reacting to Beijing’s soft power push into its heart

The World Today Published 24 May 2019 Updated 6 November 2020 3 minute READ

Amine Bennis

International legal counsel, The views expressed are personal and should not be taken as representing the position of his employer

In April 2019, China convened the second forum of its Belt and Road Initiative, a vast network designed to promote new economic corridors and to link cities and ports through existing and new routes and infrastructure. Though its immediate focus is on Asia, Belt and Road investments are spreading through southeastern Europe, a region in which China’s economic influence is recent, but its impact is drawing significant attention.

Chinese foreign direct investments in Europe have reached record levels over the past decade, reaching €37.2 billion in 2016. Combined with Beijing’s ‘going out’ policy to encourage the internationalization of Chinese companies, these levels of investment are linked to the state of the European economies. The euro debt crisis of 2008, the decline of the euro against the renminbi between 2008 and 2016, and a process of de-industrialization all served in different ways to attract Chinese investments, according to Philippe Le Corre, a China expert.

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