China’s charm offensive across the Visegrad region and the Balkans has been unprecedented in recent years. Despite the difficulty facing these regions in striking the proper balance between potential challenges and opportunities, improved relations have, nevertheless, started to develop at a rapid pace via a plethora of mechanisms. This unfolding reality has not only been reflected in higher trade volumes and people-to-people exchanges, but also in Chinese investment projects targeting strategic industries.
To demonstrate this trend, it is noteworthy that Serbia is being positioned as an important transport and trade corridor. For this reason, one of the projects of China’s OBOR is a rail line transiting from the Serbian capital Belgrade to Hungary‘s capital Budapest. Slovakia, on the other hand, had until recently been considering providing a 30-year rental of its airport in Bratislava to Chinese investors. In Poland, it was previously suggested that China´s flagship airline, Air China, might acquire an ownership stake in its national carrier LOT. More recently, the criminal probe of a shadowy Chinese oil magnate who headed CEFC China Energy, is shedding much-needed light on Czech-Chinese economic and financial relations.
For China, the Balkans and the Visegrad region represent a gateway to larger European markets. While some stakeholders recommend taking full advantage of opportunities stemming from China´s rise, there is a dearth of discussion on the national security implications of such increased trade and capital flows.
Each project partner will produce three blog posts in their respective languages concerning their preliminary findings;
Five closed-door roundtables will be organized to present key insights to selected policymakers, government officials and other interested parties;
Five public events will be held with the aim of raising awareness about project findings and stimulate public discussion about the V4+ approach to China‘s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative;
A series of interactive videos will be designed to disseminate project results and illuminate crucial trends on social media channels;
A final report is to be published in March 2019 reflecting an almost a year-long research effort by five renowned institutions. It will be accompanied by an Executive Summary; and
A final conference will be convened in March 2019 in Prague with the participation of project partners, thus creating a useful platform to present the most noteworthy project results and recommendations.