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Home > Events > Conferences > Conference: How “Belt & Road” Influences China-CEE Relations? Opportunities and Challenges

Conference: How “Belt & Road” Influences China-CEE Relations? Opportunities and Challenges

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14 September 2017
The Polish Institute of International Affairs together with China-CEEC Think Tanks Network (CASS) and the Chinese Embassy in Poland had the pleasure to organize a conference entitled: How “Belt & Road” Influences China-CEE Relations? Opportunities and Challenges on 14 September. 

Short Summary:

What has changed in the “Belt & Road Initiative” after the forum in Beijing last May? How will the initiative influence the relations between China, the Central European countries and the “16+1” format? Will it expand? Or marginalize? How is BRI and “16+1” perceived by Central European countries? The participants of the “How Belt & Road influences China-CEE relations? Opportunities and Challenges” conference organized on September 14 in Warsaw by PISM and the China Academy of Social Sciences tried to answer these questions. 

The keynote speech was delivered by Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs Mr. Marek Magierowski. In his speech, he presented the current condition of Poland-China relations concentrating on the “comprehensive strategic partnership” which is based on four pillars: regular political contacts, EU aspect, sub regional (16+1) contacts and local authorities cooperation. The minister underlined Poland`s participation in the “Belt & Road Initiative” and AIIB membership. These actions subscribe to the realization of the “connectivity” idea which demands openness and transparency of the projects. The minister pointed out that effective Polish-Chinese and European-Chinese cooperation is possible when these relations are based on partnership and reciprocal profits. 

Afterwards, participants of the conference - panelists and guests from China and other Central European countries - analyzed the results of the “Belt & Road Initiative” forum in Beijing, including possible influence of the initiative on the international order. Financial instruments provided under “Belt & Road” and the future of  the “16+1” format 5 years after its establishment were also discussed. 

There was a discussion of differences outlined between Chinese and European experts through a review of recent “Belt & Road” and “16+1” results. The European side sees the potential from participation in both initiatives, however feels unsatisfied. The belief is that Chinese investment and financing is not suitable for regional needs. Moreover, announcements made by the Chinese side,  such as during high level visits, have not materialized yet. Chinese experts pointed out that both initiatives should be perceived in a long term perspective and one should not expect fast results. Currently, there is an ongoing process of drafting the details of cooperation. 

European experts also pointed out the possibility of China using the “Belt & Road Initiative” as a tool through which to alter the international order.  – e. g. towards Chinese model of Pax Americana or Russian Mir. Chinese participants underlined that the goal of chairman Xi Jinping`s flagship initiative is not to change the international order but only to reform it. This is why Chinese actions should not be viewed as a challenge or threat, but as China`s contribution. 

In the summary both sides acknowledged that “Belt & Road” is far more of an initiative than a precise action plan, and “16+1” should be considered as a useful platform to facilitate regular contact between Central Europe and China. 

Written by: Marcin Przychodniak (China Analyst)


08:45-09:00 Welcoming Coffee

09:00-09:15 Opening Remarks

  • Sławomir Dębski, Director, Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Huang Ping, Secretary General of the China-CEEC Think Tanks Network (CASS), Director General of Institute of European Studies, CASS
  • Xu Jian, Ambassador of China to Poland

09:15-10:00 Keynote Speech

  • Marek Magierowski, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland

10:00-11:30 Session 1: A New Opening/Stage of “Belt & Road” Initiative?

Session will identify possible changes after this year’s “Belt & Road” international forum and their influence on possible cooperation. What is new after the forum? Is “Belt & Road” now more or less clear? How can the potential for China-CEEC cooperation be further explored under the “Belt & Road” framework? Specific emphasis will be placed on implications for CEE countries and the 16+1 format. 


  • Radosław Flisiuk, Head of China Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland
  • Kong Tianping, Senior Research Fellow, IES, CASS (confirmed)
  • Dragana Mitrovic, Director, Centre for Asian and Far Eastern Studies, University of Belgrade
  • Renata Mudrova, Department of International Business, Metropolitan University Prague

Chair: Justyna Szczudlik, Asia-Pacific Programme Coordinator, Polish Institute of International Affairs

11:30-11:45 Coffee Break

11:45-13:15 Session 2: Future of 16+1 Format after Five Years of Existence 

Session will describe the current stage of the “16+1” initiative, and identify trends, chances, and challenges ahead of the coming summit in Budapest. Proposals for the Budapest summit are welcomed, especially regarding how to push forward concrete cooperation in investment and projects under “16+1”. Panelists will try to explain the possible synergy between “16+1” and “Belt & Road”, as well as links and differences between these two initiatives. Will the 16+1 Format melt into “Belt & Road” or stay as an independent platform of China-CEE cooperation? Achievements to date and challenges will be discussed.


  • Marcin Przychodniak, China Analyst, Polish Institute of International Affairs 
  • Liu Zuokui, Director of Department of CEE Studies, IES, CASS
  • Agnes Szunomar, Research Fellow, Academy of Sciences in Budapest

Chair: Cui Hongjian, Director of Department of European Affairs, CIIS 

13:15-14:15 Lunch

14:15-15:45 Session 3: Implications of the “Belt & Road” Initiative for the Global Order

Session will describe the current global order, including main conflicts, alliances, and possible scenarios in the context of China’s influence and its main foreign policy tool (BRI). Panelists will identify the main opponents of the initiative and their arguments, and either negate or accept the arguments. Is “Belt & Road” a mean to build a network of partners to lift up China’s worldwide influence? 


  • Dominik Mierzejewski, Department of East Asia Studies, University of Łódź
  • Zhao Jianglin, Director of Economic Studies, NIIS, CASS
  • Una Aleksandra Berzina-Cherenkova, Head of Riga Stradins University Confucius center; Associate Researcher, Latvian Institute of International Affairs
  • Liisi Karindi, Research Fellow, Asian Research Centre

Chair: Damian Wnukowski, Analyst at International Economic Relations and Energy Policy Programme, Polish Institute of International Affairs

15:45-17:15 Session 4: Is Money the Key? Financing Schemes under “Belt & Road” Initiative

Session will focus on the financing of projects under “Belt & Road” Initiative, China’s involvement, and ways of participation. Panelists will also elaborate on the role of AIIB, China’s state banks (their ability to borrow money in connection with their current liquidity and bad loans status), and possible foreign actors (ADB, IMF, World Bank). 


  • Andrzej Szewczyk, Deputy Director, Department of Economic Promotion, Polish Investment and Trade Agency (tbc)  
  • Wang Yongzhong, Director of International Energy Studies, IWEP, CASS
  • Wolf Csaba, Regional China Director, Deloitte in Budapest
  • Petrisor Gabriel Peiu, Director, The Black Sea University Foundation in Bucharest

Chair: Una Aleksandra Berzina-Cherenkova, Head of Riga Stradins University Confucius center; Associate Researcher, Latvian Institute of International Affairs

17:15-17:45 Closing Remarks

Date, time and place:
14 September (Thursday) 2017
8:45 - 17:45
Hotel Bellotto
Senatorska 13/15


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