China in the Western Balkans: HOW SHOULD THE EU RESPOND?

We are delighted to introduce the second issue of our ACM Briefs, published in August 2021. These Policy Briefs are a part of the bigger project funded by the Balkan Trust for Democracy (GMF) and USAID aimed at providing laser-sharp insights into the political and social trends in the region, strengthening dialogue and presenting concrete policy recommendations regarding pressing international and security issues in the Western Balkans. The purpose of this specific Policy Brief is to provide an overview of China’s role in the Western Balkans. In the past decade, the country has become one of the most prominent external actors in this part of the European Union’s neighborhood. China is increasingly expanding its influence and presence in the region, supported by its Belt and Road Initiative and 16+1 format. The political, economic, and societal implications of the coronavirus pandemic together with the global power centers’ shift and China’s remarkable economic expansion inevitably influence the Western Balkan region as the interests and influences of many actors collide. China is exploiting the geopolitical ambivalence of many Western capitals while trying to acquire real leverage over policy choices, political attitudes, and narratives in some parts of the Western Balkans.

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China in the Western Balkans: HOW SHOULD THE EU RESPOND?
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