Central and Eastern Europe provide new catalysts for China's diplomacy

By Liu Zuokui Source:Global Times Published: 2013-12-10 19:53:01

Premier Li Keqiang's attendance at the China-Central and Eastern Europe leaders' meeting shifted world attention to a region where China's presence has been low key for years. The high-speed rail agreement signed with Romania has also aroused discussions about China's new round of economic diplomacy.

Regional integration and globalization are making the international community more diverse, and making the roles played by each international actor change more quickly.

China has been advocating a new security philosophy after stepping into the new century, which regards ties with its neighbors as its primary relationships, ties with major powers as key relationships, and ties with developing countries as basic relationships.

But in this guiding ideology, countries in Central and Eastern Europe cannot fully match any of the three dimensions. They are not China's neighbors, nor are they major powers or developing countries.

However, these countries offered great opportunities for Chinese enterprises to "go out" when the EU was severely hit by the debt crisis. Since then, China has started to enrich its multidirectional diplomacy by shifting more focus into this region.

 Along with the deepening of cooperation, these areas, which are yet to be clearly defined in China's diplomatic philosophy, will probably add new catalysts to China's economic and investment growth.

Shifting attention to Central and Eastern Europe mirrors China's major change to its "go out" policy.

It is trying to transform its traditional policy of looking for bigger markets and absorbing more advanced technologies, into a new trade dynamic that concentrates on how to export China's competitive products and services to the international market.

"High-speed rail diplomacy" is the latest approach being used to make a breakthrough.

Warm ties with Central and Eastern Europe will not only bring immediate benefits to China, but also push the country to explore other markets.

Central and Eastern Europe will probably not grow to be a massive market for China, but they can act as a platform where China can conduct "pilot projects" of industrial upgrading.

This area is also the bridgehead through which China can reach the EU, a still lucrative market where China's prospective profits will be much larger than the immediate benefits.

In the meantime, Central and Eastern Europe will enjoy the overflow of this win-win policy. Its infrastructure construction will be boosted and economic elements be improved.

China's new Silk Road economic belt is also a strategic design that mirrors the same thoughts of China's decision-makers.

As an emerging power, China needs to include every necessary element and mobilize all positive forces to trigger a coupling effect, which can make China's diplomatic efforts achieve mutually beneficial results.

It is believed that Central and Eastern Europe will be pivotal areas for China's strategy.

The author is vice director of the Department of Central and European Studies, Institute of European Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: Viewpoint

blog comments powered by Disqus