Katherine Hirschfeld | The Anthropocene Review
The Central and East European (CEE) part of the Eurasian landmass is often overlooked in the conversations on contemporary geopolitics. Yet, owing to China’s relations with the CEE countries, the region has been subject to growing strategic attention. This article offers a brief overview of the history of this relationship by focusing on the “17+1” mechanism. Nestled within the broader Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the “17+1” has provided a unique regional arrangement for extending Chinese influence in the sixteen CEE countries. The article inquires whether there is something else than the instrumental economic reasoning for the willingness of CEE countries to partner with China. The analysis detects three distinct strategic narratives motivating the participation of CEE states in the “17+1” mechanism. The study concludes with an enquiry on China’s preparedness to respond to such identity geopolitics not only in the CEE region, but throughout the vast expanse covered by the BRI initiative.