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Central and Eastern Europe, Group 16+1 and One Belt One Road: The Case of 2016 Sino-Polish Comprehensive Strategic Partnership

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Abstract: The concept of the PRC’s co-operation with the Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs) in the sixteen-plus-one format (G16+1) first emerged in December 2011 when the PRC and Poland signed the strategic-partnership declaration, later formalised in April 2012. The obvious purpose of the G16+1 is to pave the way for the development of the land component of the One Belt One Road Project (OBOR) known as the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB). Poland, thanks to its geographical situation, is predestined to be the SREB’s hub bridging land transportation routes coming to Europe via Eurasian Economic Union and from the South via Balkans. However, as of late 2017, the prospects for the development of SREB’s hub in Poland look increasingly uncertain due to external forces for which such a scenario is not convenient, particularly for the EU Germany who consider the CEE region to be essential as an industrial territory. Moreover, despite upgrading Sino-Polish relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership in June 2016, the actual stance of the Polish government on the SREB project has been rather averse in the light of Poland’s allegiance to the idea of the Trans-Pacific alliance, holding a strong interest in the US-led Three Seas Initiative (Trimarium) which directly competes with the G16+1 project.

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