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China’s push into Eastern Europe: A conversation with Martin Hála

All about 16+1, a new initiative from China, which launched in Warsaw, Poland, in 2012.

A
new Chinese initiative called “16+1” takes its name from sixteen countries of Central and Eastern Europe plus China. It held a summit in November 2016 attended by Premier Li Keqiang and prime ministers or deputy prime ministers from the other member states. Earlier, President Xi Jinping had visited three countries in the region — Serbia, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

What’s it all for? How have China’s overtures been received by the governments of Central and Eastern Europe? Many of them — like those of Poland and the Czech Republic — had, until recently, real difficulties in their relations with China. And how have the two powers flanking Central and Eastern Europe — Russia to the east and the EU to the west — reacted to China’s creation of 16+1?

For answers to these questions and many more, Kaiser and Jeremy talked to Martin Hála, a China scholar who heads a project called AcaMedia, which is based in his native Prague.

Recommendations:

Jeremy: The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera.

Martin: Black Wind, White Snow, by Charles Clover, Eurasian integration: Caught between Russia and China, by the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Kaiser: The “relative calculator” app on WeChat, which calculates the correct Chinese term for family relations. Search for 亲戚计算器 (qīnqi jìsuànqì) on WeChat.

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