Monday, February 22, 2021 14:00 PM (GMT + 7)
China considers the Balkans a “gateway” to the European market and has invested heavily in the region. But the Balkan countries are no longer interested in China because of promises that have not come true in the past.
An increasing number of countries in the Balkans are skeptical of China’s promises to invest.
A few days before the summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and 17 leaders of Central and Eastern European countries in the Balka region, nearly 90 Chinese investors showed up at a Beijing hotel to listen to Speech by President Montenegro Milo Djukanovic.
Mr. Djukanovic said the country of 680,000 people welcomes Chinese investments in the tourism, energy and transport sectors.
Montenegro is one of the small countries in the Balkans that expect investments from China to revive the economy seriously affected by the Covid-19 epidemic. But it is the country that also questioned investment promises from China.
The $ 750 million highway project under the “Belt and Road” initiative is said to be the cause of Montenegro’s national debt increase to 80%.
“In terms of geopolitics and markets, Chinese leaders see the Balkans as an open door to Europe. The Balkans are located in a strategic location, the intersection between Europe and the Eurasian continent. “, Vuk Vuksanovic, a researcher at the Center for Security Policy Belgrade (Serbia), said.
“The Balkans are increasingly concerned about the short- and medium-term challenges of economic development and infrastructure. One question is whether the Balkan region is moving further away from the EU. because Chinese standards are different from those of Europe, “said Djukanovic.
A decade after China launched the 17 + 1 initiative, many countries in Central and Eastern Europe are increasingly dissatisfied with the results, as the trade deficit widens with China, cannot create more jobs. Beijing has also been criticized for opening markets for agricultural exports.
Filip Sebok, an analyst at the Prague-based Association of International Affairs, said: “For a long time, China is seen as a potential investor that will bring new momentum. for the Central and Eastern European economies. But things are not going as expected. “
This year, leaders of 6 European countries including Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia did not participate in the 17 + 1 summit. Instead, these countries dispatch lower level representatives.
Xi has promised China will import $ 170 billion worth of goods and double its purchases of agricultural products from the Balkans within the next five years. But this commitment is not enough to dispel any concerns, according to SCMP.
The promise of 2012 to boost trade with the region to 100 billion USD by 2015 did not meet expectations. This target will only be completed by 2020.
In his latest foreign affairs speech, President Biden stressed that the US and the EU must prepare for “competition …
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