Friends or foes? How diverging views of communist past undermine the China-CEE ‘16+1 platform’

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China and the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries have been engaged recently in dynamic diplomatic exchanges under the umbrella of 16+1 platform and the Belt and Road Initiative. The article offers an explanation of why the massive Chinese diplomatic effort did not lead to an improved image of China in the CEE region. We adopt the approach of cultural sociology and focus on how the two sides’ ‘meaning structures’ relate to each other. It is argued that main China’s discourse frame of ‘traditional friendship’ based on the shared socialist past is not well received in most of the CEE region which has quite problematic view of Communism due to own historic experience. The dissonance between the Chinese friendly rhetoric and the CEE lukewarm reception imply some deep-cutting differences when it comes to views of history which have significant political implications for current and future relations between the two sides.

journal: Asia Europe Journal

authors: Richard Turcsanyi and Runya Qiaoan


  • Richard Q. Turcsányi is the program director of CEIAS. He studies international relations, economics, and political science at the Masaryk University in Brno. Currently, he is an assistant professor at the Institute of Territorial Studies of the Mendel University in Brno where he teaches courses on current East Asia, geopolitics, and theories of International Relations. He is also a researcher at the Palacky University in Olomouc where he works on the research project Sinophone Borderlands. Between August 2014 and January 2015, he conducted research as a Taiwan Fellow at the National Chengchi University. In 2016 he was doing research at Peking University and Fudan University in China.