Western Balkans during COVID-19 pandemic: how a waltz between Brussels and Beijing is turning into a Dragon dance

  • Nina Markovic Khaze

Press/Media: Expert Comment


This is the official blog series of the European Studies Association of Australia and New Zealand. Invited commentary about Western Balikans. 


Chinese Foreign Policy, European Studies, Serbia

Period3 Aug 2020

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleWestern Balkans during COVID-19 pandemic: how a waltz between Brussels and Beijing is turning into a Dragon dance
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media name/outletEuropean Studies Association of Australia and New Zealand
    Media typeWeb
    DescriptionIn 2017, China launched a digital public diplomacy campaign in which Wang Yi, Chinese foreign minister boasted about China establishing “different forms of partnership with 97 countries and international organizations. It is fair to say our circle of friends is getting bigger and bigger.” Yet, as a Chinese proverb “Guǎ ng jiāoyǒ u, wú shēnjiāo” cautions, one cannot cultivate deep friendships by maintaining a huge social circle. In Chinese foreign policy understanding, the European Union and its Southern neighbourhood is divided into several distinct zones of influence. Its principal aim is to gain knowledge about China’s counterparts, improve the image of China globally and advance economic and diplomatic interests of the world’s most populous country. Many governments in the Western Balkans are currently dancing a delicate political “waltz”, balancing between Brussels and Beijing. While analysts are debating whether or not Russia’s influence in this region remains strong, China managed to overcome debilitating intra-regional rivalries and offer strong economic incentives for engagement – at the displeasure of both Brussels and Washington. Evaluating China’s relationships in this geopolitical space is necessary in order to better understand how Western Balkans is currently positioned between Brussels and Beijing. COVID-19 pandemic provides an insight into this complex relationship and has a potential to increase China’s presence there.
    PersonsNina Markovic Khaze