Sanja Arezina

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The Sino-Western Balkans cooperation has advanced significantly since the Great Recession and the Eurozone crisis. Relations were developed at the bilateral and multilateral levels, within the "One Belt, One Road" Initiative (Belt and Road Initiative – BRI) which was promoted in 2013 and which included the previously established Mechanism of Cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European Countries ("17+1" Mechanism). Although the Chinese President Xi Jinping called BRI a "project of the century" in 2017, new international circumstances caused by the intensified the Sino-US rivalry and the COVID-19 pandemic made the Chinese leadership reconsider activities and funding abroad, and adjust the new 14th Five-Year Plan with changes that have taken place in the past five years. They decided that China will focus on "dual circulation" in the coming period, i.e. to reduce the numerous activities and investments (and loans) within the BRI, and to redirect funds to investing in domestic capacities. In this article, the author discusses the China-Western Balkans relations from 1949 until 2013 when the BRI implementation started, the factors influencing China’s cooperation with the Western Balkans and analyzes the progress of cooperation after the start of the BRI implementation compared to the previous period. In order to prove the basic hypothesis, that Sino-Western Balkan cooperation within the "Belt and Road" Initiative will continue to develop in a positive direction, despite the influence of negative factors, and above all due to the good results achieved within the "Belt and Road" Initiative in 2013, the author uses the structural-functional analysis, comparative analysis, induction and deduction.


China, Western Balkans, "Belt and Road" Initiative, European Union, United States.

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