Eastern Europe in the Policy of ‘Belt And Road’: Is There a Place for Ukraine?

  • Post Category:Issue XX

Viktor Konstantynov
Associate Professor of the Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of the Institute of International Relations of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ph.D. in Political Science

DOI https://doi.org/10.37837/2707-7683-2019-41

Abstract. The article examines China’s policy in Eastern Europe within the framework of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)’. The level of Ukraine’s involvement in the cooperation within the framework of this initiative and China’s policy in general is analyzed.
It is stressed that in recent years, the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative is not only economic but also political and security project of China. The main purpose of the initiative is to consolidate the role of Beijing as one of the leaders in the modern world.
It is noted that Europe is becoming increasingly important in China’s foreign policy. How-ever, in this region, it cannot use the usual strategy of wielding its influence, worked out in Asia and Africa. Therefore, Central and Eastern Europe, new EU members and candidate countries are considered as objects for spreading Chinese influence in the Old World.
The article identifies the principal reasons for Beijing’s particular attention to Central and Eastern Europe. The main one is the relative weakness of state and political institutions and their vulnerability to financial and political instruments of the spread of Chinese influence. Also, the importance of the European Union as a market for Chinese goods continues to grow, therefore making the transit through the territory of the Eastern European countries increasingly important for Beijing. The significance of the ‘16+1’ format on the formation of a specific role of China in the region is considered.
It is argued that the formal ground of the absence of Ukraine in the Chinese strategy in Central and Eastern Europe is that our state is not involved in the ‘16+1’ format. However, bilateral relations with Ukraine do not differ from those with Central and Eastern European countries. An important factor is the lack of Ukraine’s influence on political decisions of the EU, which is the main criterion for China. This accounts for the insufficient level of Ukraine’s involvement in the cooperation within the framework of the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative.
Keywords: ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative, the People’s Republic of China, Eastern Europe, European Union, Ukraine, politics.

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