For a number of years, China seemed to be making inroads in Central and Eastern Europe, even drawing participation in an informal grouping of CEE nations. Lately, though, it seems that CEE states are fed up with unfulfilled promises, aggressive diplomacy and illiberal behavior.
Despite Joe Biden's election as US president, tensions and intense rivalry between the US and China are likely to persist in the coming years. Given this environment, what are the prospects for Europe as it seeks to uphold the multilateral, rules-based system?
French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken of "boldness," "risk-taking" and the upholding of Enlightenment values as essential to foreign policy. But far from boldness, the current strategy toward China in Paris seems one of avoiding offense at all cost.
China now talks about a “dual-cycle” of development that means less dependence on foreign markets and greater domestic demand. Only by stabilizing employment can the country effectively develop and sustain demand. But current rates of growth suggest stabilizing employment will be a tough ask.