The Dynamics of the Republic of Serbia’s Cooperation with China via the Belt and Road Initiative and the “Sixteen plus One” Platform
In this paper, we examine what factors played a determining role in creating new and dynamic bilateral relationships between the “sixteen” smaller European states and China, particularly the Republic of Serbia. Our research will notably examine the expressed capacity of the local actors in Serbia and their main drivers to accept and support China’s initiatives. A new chapter in cooperation with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) resulted from the one-sided PRC initiative. Vulnerable to the consequences of the global economic crises and neglected by Brussels, member states among the “sixteen” were attracted to China’s promise of market access for their products and investment. The Balkan states, severely affected by the civil war in the 1990s and the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, were in an even grimmer condition and even further from substantial developmental assistance from Brussels. The domestic economic and somewhat political drivers were the main ones that existed with all the local agents and their willingness to engage. In the case of Serbia, there were also powerful peace and security issues. Additional drivers come from international relations, and major power rivalries became increasingly apparent with the rise of project numbers and values and China’s growing political clout over the included countries.