Chinese economic and political activities are growing in the Central and Eastern European region. China initiated a high level discussion platform, which was called “16+1” and involves the active participation of the countries in the region, from the Baltics to the Balkans. This platform was expanded earlier this year when Italy joined the cooperation mechanism. Western Europe watches this kind of movement by China, wrapped in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) strategic masterplan, with suspicions. Some of the 17 participating countries, especially the countries in the Balkan Peninsula, feel frustrated about the EU’s attitude towards China and the BRI. China has realized that there is some room for the expansion of its strategic influence in the zone between Russia and Western Europe. The central part of this zone, which includes mainly Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia (also known as Visegrad Four / V4), is now the economic powerhouse of the EU and acts as a block in EU-related political debates. This public lecture will discuss the background of the 17+1 cooperation mechanism and analyze the various parties’ intentions and motivations. It will also assess whether China is really so active in the CEE region as the Western media is suggesting.
About the Speaker
After his degrees in agricultural economics, German-Hungarian translation and international MBA (Webster, US), he completed his PhD at Szent Istvan University, Hungary. He worked as an associate professor at this university, where he also acted as the vice dean for international affairs of the School of Economics and Social Sciences. László is a research professor of the Széchenyi István University (Hungary). His main fields of research are economics of transition, Post-Soviet studies, China’s influence and international issues of agricultural economics. He is a professor of Széchenyi István University (Győr, Hungary) and PhD supervisor of doctoral schools in Hungary and abroad, member of editorial board of different referred international and Hungarian scientific journals. He actively participates in several international scientific organisations and networks as a visiting professor and honorary doctor of Japanese, Russian, and Kazakh universities. Within the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, in his position as chief advisor, he is responsible for the relations with Chinese think tanks and government institutions and a demanded speaker of high level conferences and seminars in this topic. He is also the program coordinator of the Eastern Opening research program.