New Silk Road Leads Through the Balkans – China and Southeast European Countries
At this year’s Sarajevo Business Forum, held on May 4th and 5th 2016, 760 million USD investment/credit of the Chinese Exim Bank into the energy sector in BIH was signed. But this investment did not come out of blue, neither has huge Chinese delegation composed of 150 officials and business people from a couple of provinces who attended this year’s SBF 2016.
The People’s Republic of China has entered the 21st century with the self-esteem of an economic superpower, but also with the sense of duty to regain its lost universal fame after the so-called “century of national humiliation”. Its economic growth, averaging 10% annually over the last 30 years, as well as its successful balancing on the global political scene, enabled China to start expanding into the markets of the United States of America, the European Union and African countries. However, this expansion has not progressed without obstacles – Chinese investments and companies encounter in third markets not only political opposition, but also severe competition, especially in technology-demanding sectors. Since 2008, when the ﬁnancial crisis spread from the USA into Europe and the countries in the Euro-zone got caught up in debt problems, the attitude towards China and its economic power started to shift.
It was in this light that intensiﬁcation of the relations between China and the countries of Central and Southeast Europe have started. The number of investments and the volume of trade exchange keeps growing. The bilateral relations are gaining a momentum, marking the beginning of renewal of the historical “Silk Road”, which had connected the Far East with Europe by land and sea routes for centuries.
The “New Silk Road” not only constitutes an infrastructural link between China and European countries, thus shortening the transportation of goods and equipment, but it also aims at enabling distributional, market and technological positioning of Chinese companies in the European continent. In this analysis, we want to examine the prerequisites for economic expansion of China, as well as current situation and future prospects of economic relations between the People’s Republic of China and the countries in Southeast Europe, in particular in view of anemic growth of the European Union and of ever more imminent rebalancing of the Chinese economy.