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Category: Issue 6 2023

Issue 6/2023: The Dragon in Europe

Now available - the latest issue of New Eastern Europe: On how China approaches Russia and the region.

November 20, 2023 - New Eastern Europe

Between “Trojan horses” and an “Anti-China Vanguard”?

While China may be growing into an economic, military and technological giant, the experience of Central and Eastern Europe indicates that this “hegemon in the making” is much more vulnerable and isolated than it likes to believe. At the same time, wishing China away is impossible. Ignoring the fact that it is already a stakeholder in the complex European landscape comes with great risk.

On the pleasant sunny morning of June 14th 2023, pedestrians crossing the iconic Charles Bridge in Prague found themselves navigating through multiple meticulously-staged Chinese couples. These groups were taking their pre-wedding photos against the scenic skyline of the city. Locals have probably become accustomed to this sight. Ever since the Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai released her Mandopop hit “Prague Square”, hundreds of thousands of Chinese tourists have been flocking to the city to enjoy its romance.

November 20, 2023 - Emilian Kavalski

China and Russia: a strategic partnership with many limits

The threat of a China-Russia alliance poses significant geopolitical challenges to the United States and the European Union. However, the strength of their relationship may not be as powerful as they declare.

In his September visit to Stockholm, the Republican chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Michael McCaul, warned that the strengthening relationship between Russia and China was the most significant “threat to Europe and the Pacific … since World War II”. This viewpoint, as sensationalist as it appears, has some merit. Both China and Russia are nuclear-armed, both can paralyse the United Nations Security Council with their veto powers, both have in the last decade become more authoritarian at home, and both have engaged in a variety of malign activities that damage democracy abroad.

November 20, 2023 - Alexander Lanoszka

The Sino-Baltic dynamic in the age of Sino-Russian synergy

The strengthening of China-Russia relations has raised concerns in the countries over which Russia still projects its ambitions, including the Baltic states. Thus, China's position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has only served as the tipping point in an already souring relationship between the Baltic states and Beijing.

Both Russia and China have ventured into each other’s perceived space over centuries of mutual interactions. Still, there are no grounds to argue that China would go against Russian claims in Europe. Russian actions, including the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24th 2022, minor inconveniences aside, have proven to be useful for China's rivalry with the United States. The two countries are not allies, yet a mutually beneficial relationship has emerged with Russia as a spoiler and China as a global agenda shifter. On top of an array of other issues shared across Europe – such as unequal trade practices, economic coercion and values – it is this consideration that serves as the strongest argument limiting Baltic engagement with Beijing.

November 20, 2023 - Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova

The Russian-Chinese asymmetry

A conversation with Michał Lubina, associate professor of political science at the Institute of the Middle and Far East at the Jagiellonian University. Interviewer: Maciej Makulski

MACIEJ MAKULSKI: I want to start with a personal question about your approach to learning about, researching and describing Russia and China. It is a broad subject and, I guess, it is quite easy to replicate western calques when talking about these countries.

MICHAŁ LUBINA: Thank you for this question. No one has ever asked me that before. I research Russian-Chinese relations and Myanmar, and it is a lot. Regarding my cognitive beginnings, when I was 17, I went backpacking in Syria, and since then, I have travelled a lot. I cannot talk about a country if I haven't been there. Later, I enrolled in a Russian studies course at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków which taught me to look at a country through its culture, language and codes. It is, therefore, the antithesis of western universalism. Cultural relativism makes you look at each country through its lens.

November 20, 2023 - Maciej Makulski Michał Lubina

Leading a rethink of China’s Belt and Road Initiative

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is no longer seen as attractive today as it was ten years ago. However, some key differences in approaches to China are emerging throughout Europe. This is evident when analysing German engagement towards China, versus that of Southeast Europe.

It has been ten years since the inauguration of China’s flagship foreign economic policy – the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Chinese President Xi Jinping has labelled the BRI as the “project of the century.” Many of the more than 140 participating countries have ample reason to take stock of the benefits and drawbacks of their cooperation with, and integration into, this geopolitical and geo-economic project.

November 20, 2023 - Jens Bastian

China’s role as a pro-Russian mediator in ending the Russia-Ukraine war

Debate has grown regarding Beijing’s relations with Russia and its war against Ukraine. While China has offered support to Moscow, it is important to remember that the rising power has other wider interests. Overall, it seems that China will always put its own interests first with regards to the ongoing conflict.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sent shockwaves throughout the international community, raising concerns about regional stability, human rights violations and global security. As the world grapples with finding solutions to the invasion, the role of key actors like China has come under scrutiny. Exploring China's strategic interests, economic ties, role in the balance of power and diplomatic leverage can shed light on the complex dynamics of the invasion. It can also reveal potential paths toward resolving the war and dealing with Russia and its allies.

November 20, 2023 - Arsen Martyshchuk

A mountain of controversies leaves Czech-China relations with little room for progress

The window of opportunity that was once wide open for China to establish a robust presence in the Czech Republic has closed due to a multitude of unfulfilled pledges and growing tensions in bilateral relations. Furthermore, China's pro-Russian neutrality in the Ukraine war has sparked concerns about its appeal as a viable partner.

After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, the newly independent Czech Republic, under the leadership of Václav Havel, took a strong stance against China's human rights record and expressed scepticism towards cooperation with communist regimes. However, changes in the political scene gradually influenced this values-based foreign policy, as it was replaced by a more pragmatic approach aimed at attracting potential investment. Setting the foundations for the Czech Republic to become the gateway for Chinese investment in Europe, Petr Nečas's government, ruling the country from 2010 to 2013, saw China as a new and attractive partner.

November 20, 2023 - Veronika Blablova

Hazards to Georgia’s foreign policy: A strategic partnership with China?

The latest shift in Georgia's foreign policy, marked by the signing of a strategic agreement with China, raises further concerns about the country’s trajectory towards the European Union and NATO. By engaging more with China, Tbilisi is also helping Russia fulfil its aim to decouple Georgia from the West.

In July 2023, the relationship between Georgia and China grabbed the spotlight of global attention – the two countries decided to elevate their bilateral relations to a strategic partnership and signed a subsequent agreement. Although deepening relations between sovereign states is not out of the ordinary in foreign affairs, critical questions about this particular event are looming over the horizon.

November 20, 2023 - Nino Lezhava

Curbing China’s sway in Eastern Europe

In the evolving landscape of international relations, it has become increasingly clear that the US and Europe must join forces to address China's growing influence in Eastern Europe. The recent Russian aggression against Ukraine has reshaped regional dynamics and intensified the global struggle for power and influence.

The Russian full-scale aggression against Ukraine had an evident impact on regional and global ties in Eastern Europe. While Russia was seeking opportunities to attract more allies in its war of aggression, like Iran and North Korea, its major objective internationally was to create an alliance with China. However, China sees the Russia-Ukraine war as an opportunity to change the status quo and raise the stakes to outlast the United States economically and militarily.

November 20, 2023 - Vladyslav Faraponov

A treatise on guilt

Russia, both as a state and a collective of individuals, is guilty of the many war crimes committed in and against Ukraine under the banner of the Russian flag. However, leaving the argument at “Russia is guilty” is both reductionist and dangerous, as it can absolve individuals of their guilt whilst at the same time trivialising the pain and suffering caused at the hands of individuals and their actions.

For over 20 months, Russia has been committing war crimes previously unfathomable on the European continent in the 21st century. Murder, rape, the kidnapping of thousands of children and the bombings of schools, hospitals and cultural sites, are only some of the many atrocities the Russian army and affiliated mercenary groups have committed against the Ukrainian nation. Almost more striking than the horrific images that flow out of Ukraine on a near-daily basis is the deafening silence coming from Russia and Russians.

November 20, 2023 - Joshua Kroeker

A common red line? Limits of European engagement in Russia’s war against Ukraine

The Russian war against Ukraine has substantially changed perceptions of conflict and crisis in the European Union. As a recent comparison study shows, the conflict has encouraged fears of war, awareness of developments in Ukraine, questions concerning the broader frame of this war, and the involvement of the respective countries in it.

November 19, 2023 - Christos Katsioulis


Agencja digital: hauerpower studio krakow.
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