What to watch for as the premiers of China and Central and Eastern European countries gather in Sofia.
It is always a big show when the premiers of China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries meet, and Sofia 2018 will be no different. China-CEE watchers (and the rest of interested folks) should be focused on whether and how the platform addresses the issues of economic underperformance, strained relations with the EU, options of new members, the question of the final document, and the location and timing of the next premier summit.
The economy has been at the heart of the platform, and most likely it will remain there. At the same time, the lack of economic success stories is also its biggest challenge. Major headlines notwithstanding, China-CEE trade has mostly stagnated since the 16+1 platform was initiated in 2011-2012 and Chinese investments in the CEE region have grown only very modestly. The reality has been simply far lagging behind expectations and some early announcements.