China’s Europe Policy: “Divide and Rule”

China’s Europe Policy: “Divide and Rule” 18 March, 2018

The time-honoured “divide and rule” policy of the West is reshaped today at the hands of the East to work against the West. China, which further deepens the pre-existing cracks in the European Union with its economic openings, moves slowly yet adeptly while expanding its geographical and diplomatic room for manoeuvre. 

The Chinese Communist Party, which restricted presidents to two five-year terms, has just lifted this ban. Thus, the door for Xi Jinping to serve for life is now wide open. This kind of illiberal practices have been going on frequently for a few years, particularly in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. While the divisions between the “old” and “new” members of the European Union are becoming more visible than ever, China is keen on making the most of this opportunity. Against the backdrop its ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) Project, Beijing has been making generous investments in logistic network to yield commercial gains in this corner of Europe. The project is also supported by public diplomacy initiatives like the establishment of Confucius Institutes in the subject area. China aims at strategic success by building relations where it enjoys more leverage and applying those new relationships where it has less leverage. It is believed that partners are valuable in terms of preventing China’s alienation in international platforms owing to its poor human rights record or expansionism in its backyard, and helping China to obtain “market democracy” status at the World Trade Organisation. Launched in this vein by Beijing, the 16+1 Group incorporates 11 EU members and five Balkan states: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. The first summit took place in Warsaw, Poland, while the latest was organised in Budapest, Hungary in November 2017. 

Issue 86