Is China's rising influence in the Western Balkans a threat to European integration?

Nina Markovic Khaze, Xiwen Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


China’s increased economic engagement with post-communist countries in the Western Balkans in the last decade has added to the complexity of democratic consolidation in the region, with possible negative impacts on the established process of European integration of these countries, foremost Serbia and Albania. This article addresses the impacts of the increased economic and to some extent political presence of China in the Western Balkan states over the past decade which has been exerted through both economic investment and trade incentives as well as a more sophisticated use of China’s soft power. The latter is exemplified in the greater number of cultural, educational and scientific exchanges between these states and China within the 16 + 1 (17 + 1 after 2018) cooperation framework and bilaterally. The article discusses China’s engagement with the Western Balkan countries on a case-by-case basis. The cases of Croatia, as an EU member, and of Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia, as official candidates for EU membership, are examined to show the impact of the relationship with China on these states’ adherence to the European integration process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-250
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Contemporary European Studies
Issue number2
Early online date16 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • 16+1 framework
  • China
  • China-Europe relations
  • European integration
  • Western Balkans


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