Received 11.02.2022. Revised 21.02.2022. Accepted 06.04.2022.
Acknowledgements. The reported study was funded by MGIMO-University, project no. 2022-02-01.
Abstract. The Chinese direction of the EU policy-making process is often explained by the return of great power competition and the balance of power strategy in the contemporary word politics. The EU is thus considered as a quasi-state actor with geopolitical aspirations either to balance Chinese growth in cooperation with the US or to strive for an independent role in a polycentric structure. The presented research aims to assess domestic driving forces influencing the EU common position vis-a-vis China through the prism of accommodating national interests of the CEE member-states. The authors hypothesize that cooperation between the CEE countries and China is not a reason for hardening the position of the EU, but a mobilization pretext contributing to the organizational resource of Brussels against the backdrop of global changes. The study provides the analysis of interests behind the policy of CEE countries towards China, and the degree of its possible influence on the Chinese direction of the EU policy making. The research aimes to fill the gap in academic literature in understanding mechanisms of dependency of the EU policy on economic interests of its member states as well as on political aspirations to leverage the EU institutions. The authors explain the main reasons for special relations of the CEE countries with China, and then analyze the ratio of national and pan-European policy tracks towards Beijing in order to illustrate their mutual influence. The EU and its member-states are prone to economic cooperation with China seen as a critical resource for their development. At the same time Brussels is concerned about the destabilizing potential of such a cooperation for the EU normative consensus which exacerbates the problem of intraunion consolidation. This paradox contributes to the exaggeration of restrictive conditions for further EU–China cooperation and to the partial redistribution of resources within the European Union.
Keywords: EU–China relations, CEE–China relations, BRI, connectivity strategy, “16+1”
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