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Chinese economic statecraft in Central and Eastern Europe: Examining security salience and positive sanctions

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China’s economic relations with Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) rapidly expanded following the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. However, Western European leaders worried that China’s engagement in the region was a ploy to exercise influence through economic statecraft. Of particular concern were several instances where CEE states vetoed or altered joint-EU statements to expunge them of criticism directed at China. However, it remains an open question whether China can use economic statecraft to achieve its strategic goals in CEE, particularly when Chinese demands directly contradict those of the United States. This paper seeks to answer this question using a realist framework by examining the effect of security salience on the effectiveness of Chinese economic statecraft. Through the lens of two case-studies, I argue that China’s positive sanctions in CEE will be most effective in a context of low security salience and least effective in a context of high security salience.
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