CEIAS
The People’s Republic of China: Political perceptions in Central Europe

by Matej Šimalčík

Jun 12, 2023 in CEIAS Papers

The People’s Republic of China: Political perceptions in Central Europe

Constructed around nine country-specific sections, this study explains how parliamentarians and political parties in Central Europe view and scrutinise PRC and PRC-related activities. It also touches on the public’s perception of the PRC, insofar as this may animate the political decisions taken in democracies. Further, it provides a snapshot of how attitudes towards the CCP may be changing over time in the nine Central European countries.

Many no longer view the People’s Republic of China (PRC) predominantly as a partner. Under Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), it is viewed, increasingly, as a ‘systemic competitor’ or a ‘systemic rival’, as the CCP has become more assertive at home and abroad. Consequently, many nations, previously open to investment, trade and political engagement with the PRC, have already started to re-evaluate their economic and political relations with the country. But this is not an easy task; the PRC’s newfound economic power means it can no longer simply be ignored or excluded from global decision-making.

As the CCP views Western Europe as a strategic target for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), with Central Europe acting as the gateway, Chinese engagement with the region has grown substantially over the past ten years. Individual governments in Central Europe have often embraced Chinese engagement, frequently perceiving it as a commercial opportunity.

This report sets out to probe the extent to which politicians in nine Central European countries – Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia – are aware of the multifaceted (or ‘systemic’) nature of the challenge posed by the CCP and its activities.

Consequently, the following research questions have been identified:

  1. How much does the average citizen or politician in the countries of Central Europe know about the PRC and the activities of its ruling party? How is the PRC viewed in the region?
  2. How much do Members of Parliament (MPs) in Central European nations know and care about CCP activities?
  3. And, if they are aware of them, how often are they investigated, scrutinised or even mentioned in the respective parliaments or other ocial government channels?

By assessing how politicians in Central Europe have viewed the PRC,
particularly since Xi took power in 2012, this report aims to close a key knowledge gap in the field of Central European-PRC relations. It also shines light on the need to foster enhanced political debate on the PRC so that social, economic and political spaces in nations the world over are better protected from potential penetration and exploitation by the CCP.

The Council on Geostrategy sought out the assistance of nine institutions in each above-mentioned country with a strong track record of providing high-end research on topics pertaining to European and international affairs. Among these institutions, CEIAS provided analysis and contributed to the publication with a chapter on the perception of China among Slovak parliamentarians.

The publication was published by Council on Geostrategy. To read the full study, please download the PDF.

Authors

Matej Šimalčík
Matej Šimalčík

Executive Director

Key Topics

Central EuropeEUEuropegeostrategyPRCpublic opinionSino-Europe relationsChinaAustriaBulgariaCroatiaCzech RepublicHungaryPolandRomaniaSlovakiaSlovenia

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