Consistent with the ‘Eastern Opening’ foreign policy, Hungary has signed strategic agreements with eight major Chinese companies, including Huawei, since 2013. While maintaining these agreements, for foreign economic reasons, Hungary seems much more welcoming to deeper technological cooperation with the PRC and Chinese multinational corporations than the rest of the V4 countries. Read the full report for more details.
As part of the research project, we sought to gauge the perceptions of the domestic public on issues related to the People's Republic of China. The survey covered diplomatic relations, cooperation on pandemic response , attitudes compared with other major p ower actors on COVID assistance, and perceptions on the Sino Russian partnership.
The image of China in the Hungarian Media
Budapest has a very cordial relationship with the East Asian country led by the Chinese Communist Party, as a member of the Western alliance system, it is important to monitor the image of China in the mainstream Hungarian media that has the power to influence public opinion. It is also worth looking at which topics related to China are more often presented by the media and which ones are neglected. Based on all this, the position and attitude towards China of the main Hungarian media outlets can be drawn. The significance of this is well illustrated by the fact that while the importance of Hungarian-Chinese relations used to enjoy the support of the whole political spectrum in the past decade, bilateral ties became a major campaign theme in the year before the general election in 2022 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the debates over the Fudan University.
New Project Report:
Chinese Investment in CEE
Handbook for Stakeholders: China’s Sticks and Carrots in Central Europe
The unique study of China‘s employment of 'sticks' and 'carrots' in its outreach towards Czechia, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary is now also available in the form of an accessible handbook for stakeholders. The handbook presents the most important takeaways and recommendations from the study. To access the full-length study, click here.
The study was undertaken by the MapInfluenCE project and involved collaborative research across these four Central European nations.
Understanding China’s ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks’ strategy in Central Europe is especially important following the announcement that the President of the Czech Senate, Miloš Vystrčil, plans to visit Taiwan in August 2020. The question of whether China will retaliate against the Czech Republic and how, is now a burning question in Prague.
This extensive study, which has mapped China’s strategy and tactical approach in Central Europe in the past fifteen years, reveals that the mix of ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks’ differs greatly across the region. In Hungary, China has managed relations exclusively with ‘carrots’, without the need to apply ‘sticks’. In Poland, it has employed mainly ‘carrots’, while in the Czech Republic, a state with a tradition of opposing China, the Chinese party-state has used a mixture of ‘carrots’ while recently increasing its use of ‘sticks’. For specific reasons, in Slovakia, China’s influence at a level where the notion of ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks’ is applied only in a limited way as Beijing continues to remain on the sidelines of that country’s geopolitical interests.
These relationships do not flow one way, and indeed it is the Central European states and their political and economic elites’ interest in attracting China’s attention which has created openings for Chinese influence to enter and thrive in the region.
The authors of the MapInfluenCE report argue that in order to offset the effects of Chinese influence campaigns in the region, both the individual states and the European Union need to step up their respective activities. Recommendations include increasing transparency in all contacts with China, a formulation of each individual country’s China strategy, a creation and provision of guidelines for regions, provinces and municipalities on how to deal with Chinese counterparts, strengthened oversight on the involvement of political and business elites in China-related lobbying, and the investment in independent journalism and scholarly analysis on China in order to spread awareness within the general public about China-related issues.
The report’s findings confirm the urgent necessity to protect the health of domestic democratic institutions across Central Europe. As seen from numerous examples, environments where rent-seeking and corruption flourish create fertile ground for the eroding effects of Chinese influence to take hold.
The four Central European states need to assume a confident, realistic and forward-looking policy that covers all aspects of relations with China, including the issues of human rights and global norms. These Central European states should not be afraid to voice criticism towards China- indeed, China has only limited economic and negligible political or military leverage over these nations. With much of Chinese influence springing from its perceived economic superiority and (often unfulfilled) promises of economic benefits, The EU needs to initiate better information campaigns across the continent to make its citizens aware of the benefits, values and economic might of the Union.
ChinfluenCE evolves into MapInfluenCE
ChinfluenCE project is growing! The international project formerly known as ChinfluenCE (2017-2020) is now expanding to also cover the influence of other authoritarian actors in the four countries of Central Europe – Czechia, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. To reflect this change, the project has been rebranded to MapInfluenCE.
You can find all project activities on the new website www.mapinfluence.eu which still contains the previous research in English, Czech, Polish, Hungarian and Slovak. New features will be added soon. MapInfluenCE is designed and run by the Association for International Affairs (AMO), a Prague-based foreign policy think tank and NGO.
While keeping the main focus on the influence of China in the region, MapInfluenCE focuses also on areas and ways in which Chinese presence intersects with those of other external authoritarian regimes, chief among them Russia. The growth of the project reflects the rapidly changing geopolitical environment in the region, which necessitates broadening the scope of research activities.Since its inception, our team members in four countries have explored Chinese presence in Central Europe through pioneering analyses of the coverage of China in the local media, links of pro-China businessmen and local political elites, discourse of parliamentary parties and individual politicians regarding China as well as many other relevant issues linked to China’s footprint. The original approach of the project set the tone and inspired journalists, think tankers and NGOs both within and outside of the region, who later conducted similar analyses on media image of China and agenda-setting, drawing from project’s methodology and techniques. The international team has reached wide acclaim - project's analysts published more than 20 policy and briefing papers in five different languages, authored articles or appeared in numerous local as well as international media including Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, China Digital Times, Sydney Morning Herald, Politico Brussels Influence, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, The Diplomat, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Le Temps, Radio Free Europe, etc.
We would like to thank you for your support throughout these years and we hope you will stay with us in the new exciting period of our project!
We are determined to start MapInfluenCE on a high note. In just a few weeks, we will publish a large-scale comparative analysis of Chinese public diplomacy in Czechia, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, analyzing the patterns of Chinese use of “sticks” and “carrots” to influence its standing in the Central European region. Stay tuned!
Chinese influence in V4: Understanding the impact on political elites
This policy paper by CEIAS and partners Association for International Affairs (CZ), Central, Eastern European Center of Asian Studies (HU), and Center for International Relations (PL) aims to explore the perception of China among the political elites of the V4 countries (Slovakia, Czechia, Hungary, and Poland). This publication attempts to look within the “black box” of the V4 states and provide an overview of how different politicians and political parties perceive China. This will help to shed more light on what factors influence China-related policymaking in the V4 regions, and to help predict future policy change (or stagnation) based on shifts in popular support to individual parties.
CEECAS is proud to be part of the second phase of project ChinfluenCE, launched by AMO in Prague. The project aims at mapping the parliamentary discourse on China in the Czech and Hungarian national assemblies. Please, find below our policy report on the findings of the project, and the report of the first phase of the project on the image of China in CEE media.
Quo Vadis 16+1?
Having spent eight years in the China-CEE framework, European members of the initiative may raise the questions: how shall we proceed with the cooperation? Is the 16+1 successful? What future does the initiative have?
In the following short comments, some of the most well-known experts of the 16+1 address these questions and shed some light on the challenges and opportunities both China and its CEE partners have to face.
Chinese influence in V4: Understanding the impact on political elites
The Central and Eastern European Center for Asian Studies is a proud member of an international research cooperation, supported by the International Visegrad Fund.
Influence of foreign, authoritarian regimes is increasingly a hot topic in EU. V4 is no different from the rest of the EU in this regard. However, most of the attention was so far focused on Russia.
With few exceptions, China and its influence has been so far largely ignored in the V4, despite the fact that analysts around the world predict that China is on a path to become the most powerful country in the world. With this project, we aim at mapping the ideas and perceptions the V4 political elites have about China, how they are formed (by what factors), and whether they perceive China as a threat or an opportunity.
This is is a whole new avenue of China related research, that has so far not been done in the V4. Most research that has been done so far in V4 on China has dealt with the specifics of the relations between China and the individual V4 countries (such as tracking individual investment projects). Political influence of China in the regions has been mostly neglected though.
The only contribution to understanding political influence and perception of China in the V4 has been done by the consortium partners in this very project through the ChinfluenCE project, which has analyzed the media image of China in V4 and economic influence in V4. The presented project proposal is a natural extension of the past research endeavors of the consortium partners.
Moreover, the project will contribute to bringing transparency into the realm of the foreign policymaking, which has so far been lacking when it came to formulating the interests of V4 countries towards China.
Planned project activities include:
Publication dealing with the perception of China in the V4 countries.
A conference/expert roundtable in Bratislava aimed at promoting the results of the research conducted within the project.
Two blogposts per project partner presenting the most interesting and most significant findings of the research.
Slovakia: Institute of Asian Studies
Czechia: Association for International Affairs
Poland: Centre for International Relations
Hungary: Central and Eastern European Center for Asian Studies
This project is financially supported by the International Visegrad Fund
CEECAS is proud to be part of the project ChinfluenCE, launched by AMO in Prague. The project aims at mapping Chinese political and economic influence in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. Currently, the geopolitical importance of Central Europe reflects dominant security issues such as migration and reactions thereto, or the European Union’s relations to Russia. However, recently the region has become increasingly attractive to Chinese investors, often with direct links to the Chinese state.