Comparing the Czech-Polish approach to China: assessing both challenges and opportunities from a security-minded perspective

At the opening speech during the China Investment Forum in November 2015, the Czech Prime Minister noted that relations with China are at their historical best. Similar remarks were made in June 2016 by the Polish President Andrzej Duda when he welcomed China‘s President Xi Jinping in June 2016 on his state visit to Poland. More frequent people-to-people exchanges tend to reflect improved relations that have in recent years started to develop at a rapid pace, illustrating the increasing role of Central Europe.

In an effort to strengthen these strategic partnerships and create new areas of cooperation, especially with regard to the ‘One Belt, One Road‘ (OBOR) initiative, the centrepiece of China’s economic diplomacy, both the Czech Republic and Poland accord the relations with China an unprecedented level of attention. This can be, for example, demonstrated by both governments‘ endeavor to increase bilateral trade volumes, but also by China’s concerted attempt to take part in strategic investment projects.

Nevertheless, there is a dearth of discussion on the implications of these investments from the security-minded perspective when they target key industries, such as airlines, telecommunications, or manufacturing sector.

Apart from economic rationales, both countries are becoming important political partners for China. Yet, it should be effectively ensured that inflow of investments and trade facilitation are not used to gain unfair political compromises (e.g. with regard to territorial disputes in the South China Sea).

Although it is undeniable that expanding cooperation brings both countries fruitful results in numerous areas, there is a lack of awareness on possible challenges to this cooperation. Given that China is viewed with strategic importance, in part due to the upcoming decrease in EU funds and saturation of the European market, addressing this issue would enhance a security-minded awareness as both the Czech Republic and Poland find themselves at a unique juncture vis-à-vis China.

Dates of implementation: August – December 2017.

This project is supported by the Czech-Polish Forum at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and will be implemented in cooperation with the Centre for International Relations (CSM) in the period between September and December 2017.