Relations of CEE countries with China are often a subject to controversy. Tamas Matura, Hungarian expert on China, sees little justification for criticism from Western EU members. He warns that applying double standards threatens to build up lines of division within the EU.
Six years ago, I was attending an interesting closed-door roundtable on EU-China relations in Brussels, where a diplomat from one of the Western European countries set forth his remarkable assessment of the 16+1 initiative as he said: “China and Central Europe are building a new Berlin Wall across the EU”. I had the chance to attend a similar event in Brussels last December, and that time I was told by the representative of another major Western country that China simply bought off Central and Eastern European countries and Eastern member states were”puppets at the hands of Beijing“. A recent article by the Handelsblatt on a report prepared by EU ambassadors that sharply criticises China’s BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) project stated that only the Hungarian ambassador refused to sign the paper, because”countries such as Hungary and Greece, which both rely on Chinese investment, have in the past shown they are susceptible to pressure from China”.
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