Radio France Internationale (RFI) Chinese Edition recently reported that the just-finished 17+1 Summit between China and the Central and Eastern European countries is showing a changing relationship. There are now 15 European countries that are connected to China via railway for cargo transportation. It takes only 15 to 20 days to travel by rail from Xi’an or Chongqing to Europe, which is half of the time required by sea. This made the railway topic a major item on the 17+1 Summit agenda. Even with the rapid growth of the railway business, the Europeans didn’t show much warmth toward Xi Jinping. One week ago, Romania launched a regulatory procedure that excluded Chinese companies from its national construction projects. Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania only sent ministers to this summit. Hungary is the only country that clearly expressed its friendship toward Beijing. Last April, it reached an agreement with China on the funding of the Budapest-Belgrade railway. However, the content of the agreement will be kept confidential for ten years. Russia is still a real threat in the region, so the United States remains a natural ally. It appears that the Baltic states care more about their transatlantic relationship. The Central and Eastern European countries have begun to feel tired of China’s “promises” and its potential. China’s investments have been on the decline since 2016.
Source: RFI Chinese, February 10, 2021