China building ties in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Updated: 2016-06-23 15:35

By Anastasia Sukhoretskaya(

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In the light of unstable economic situation in the world, it is getting more and more important for the countries to unite and stand up to the ongoing issues. In 2013 China came up with the initiative “One Belt, One Road”, an economic framework called to connect more than 60 countries in the world’s three major continents – Asia, Africa and Europe and aimed to seek new business opportunities for the countries involved, improve the economic situation in the member countries, benefit from the mutual trade and foster cultural and educational exchanges. In the mentioned initiative, Central and Eastern Europe presents a crucial part, as a quarter of countries along the Belt and Road route are located there.

During five days, from June 17 to 22, under the program “One Belt, One Road”, the China’s president Xi Jinping paid visits to Poland, Serbia and Uzbekistan.

Each visit was unique in their nature and fruitful for both parts. I personally believe these visits will be foremost beneficial to Serbia, Poland and Uzbekistan, and then China. China is able to help with investments in these countries. At the same time, the regions present a very attractive business environment due to their location. For instance, Serbia boasts a key point location along the “One Belt, One Road” route; it will play a big role in promoting the proposed projects along the route. Due to some political tensions between Serbia and Europe (as Serbia is still not an EU member), the resources of the country were not fully exploited. I think, with its new role in “One Belt, One Road” program, Serbia will be able to get better financially, as over 20 documents were signed by both parts. It is expected to strengthen cooperation in infrastructure, industry and agriculture. Moreover, it is the first visit of China’s leader to Serbia in thirty years.

Xi Jinping’s visit to Poland was also of great importance. Poland is China’s largest trade partner in the Central and Eastern Europe region. Above all, last year Poland joined Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The recent visit of president Xi Jinping opened new perspectives for Polish food and agricultural products export. Also, with Poland being the largest economy in Central and Eastern Europe and with its unique position in the heart of the European continent, it for sure presents a very business-friendly environment. Poland boasts ecologically clean products and high-quality food, and their export for sure will meet the needs of Chinese people.

The last in a row visit was paid to Uzbekistan, a region, geographically and economically important for “One Belt, One Road” initiative. Moreover, Xi Jinping will attend the Meeting of the Council of the Heads of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to be held in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, from June 23 to 24. China’s influence in Uzbekistan has been growing in recent years. Since Uzbekistan is one of the crucial points along the “One Belt, One Road” route, Beijing has invested a lot into the transportation system of Uzbekistan. In addition, China has been expanding its presence in the energy sector of Uzbekistan’s economy, for example, uranium or chemical industry. So far, China is the largest investor in Uzbekistan.

During a five day visit, Xi Jinping made a big effort in establishing a mutual dialogue between the member countries of “One Belt, One Road” initiative in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. I believe, the program will largely benefit its participants and improve the business climate and financial situation in these countries.

Anastasia Sukhoretskaya is a senior blogger with China daily and intern journalist with International Talent magazine.