Rudolf Fürst, The Regional Format 16+1: Early Rusting, Still Alive and Expanding into 17+1
The sub-regional multilateral format of China and 16 post-communist states (16+1) proved that it could last seven years and that it has the potential to absorb new members. Consequently, the European Union is increasingly concerned about its potentially divisive effects on the EU’s unity. The expected economic benefits of 16+1 for the European partners have been scarcely relevant; still, the European states exploit the 16+1 format for strengthening their bilateral agendas with China. Amidst the trade war with China, the US regards China’s rising influence in Central Europe as a political issue. Beijing’s priority in Europe is to calm down the tension with the EU, Germany, and France over the 16+1 platform. However, the accession of Greece to the enlarged format of 17+1 in the recent 16+1 summit in Dubrovnik and the gaining of support for the Belt and Road Initiative in Italy enable China to establish its foothold on the European South’s doorstep in connection with the 17+1 regional platform.
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