Foreign Policy Digital

How China Blew Its Chance in Eastern Europe

Seven years on, the 16+1 project has largely flopped.

When it was launched by China and 16 countries from Central and Eastern Europe in 2012, the 16+1 mechanism sparked hope throughout the region that it could close the investment gap. The figures being bandied about were huge in 2012. Then-Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced a $10 billion credit line for Chinese investments in Central and Eastern Europe. One year later, memoranda of understanding for Chinese investments in just one country—Romania—topped $10 billion (8.5 billion euros).

But seven years in, as participants gather for the annual , those hopes are already faded. China failed to make its intentions clear, failed to deliver on many of its promises, and failed to offer the assurances its partners needed. In turn, the European Union—which China’s role on the continent. The failure of the 16+1 may offer a vision of the future of the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s grand geopolitical plan.

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