Economic jealousy towards Chinese investors is behind the Western concerns regarding the 16+1 cooperation, Liu Zuokui, Director of the Department of Central and Eastern European Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet.
According to the expert, the 16+1 cooperation between China and Central Eastern Europe has produced several results already, particularly in investments, but cultural and scientific ties are also strengthening. He stressed that China hasn’t reached such rapid results in other regions, which means that the goals of the cooperation were set correctly, the participants need it. The basis of this is the Chinese capital, which the CEE countries need. Liu Zuokui added that increased Chinese investment is not jeopardising the EU’s unity, but helping its economy through the 11 EU-member participants.
An important motivation of the criticism is that Western European countries are afraid to lose their economic influence over the Eastern member states who participate in the 16+1, he added. According to Liu Zuokui it’s becoming clear that the EU can’t provide an answer to the CEE region’s economic needs, the concept of the two-speed Europe is also a sign of internal divisions. He stressed that the 16+1 cooperation focuses only on the economy, China is not meddling in political debates.
“We in China think that all countries have the right to determine their own foreign policy”, Liu Zoukui said, denouncing the tendency that “Hungary is being attacked for expressing its disapproval of certain EU decisions”. The expert reminded that Hungary has been consistently representing its standpoint regarding migration. He praised Viktor Orban for realising that “the engine of globalisation is not necessarily in the West anymore, but in Asia, and Hungary started to seek economic partners outside the EU too”.