Central European countries have recently experienced a degradation of their previous commitment to the democratic ethos. In Hungary, Prime Minister Orbán openly challenged the ideal of liberal democracy, and illiberal tendencies have also been apparent in policies followed by the ruling Smer and Law and Justice parties in Slovakia and Poland, respectively. Under President Zeman, the Czech Republic has turned away from anchoring its foreign policy in shared Euro-Atlantic values. China has entered this environment as an influential new player, one that exploits these developments and threatens to further undermine the countries’ commitment to human rights and weaken their links to democratic ideals of the Euro-Atlantic community.
Project ChinfluenCE tracks how China influences political and economic elites and the media in Central Europe in the context of the region. It will carry out an extensive content analysis of Czech, Slovak and Hungarian media to discover how the image of China is constructed, if more intensive bilateral relations lead to gradually more positive image of China and whether mainstream media report on the issue differently than alternative media (with a special focus on media with Chinese ownership).
Secondly, a network analysis will identify agenda setters of the China discourse and assess their argumentation and motivation. Finally, the project will focus on describing and comparing Chinese strategy in countries in vogue and conclude with multi-layered advocacy campaign aimed at restoring a democratic and accountable approach to foreign policy formulation in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia and its implementation vis-à-vis China.
The results of the project are available at the ChinfluenCE website and will be published in policy papers and articles and presented at open as well as closed sessions.
The international ChinfluenCE project, designed and coordinated by AMO, runs from July 2017 to June 2018 in cooperation with the Institute of Asian Studies (Slovakia) and Central and the Eastern European Center for Asian Studies (Hungary) with a kind support of the National Endowment for Democracy.