China in Eastern Europe: Challenges and Opportunities

In this talk Tamás Peragovics provides a general assessment of reactions to and effects of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Eastern Europe. It starts by sketching the key BRI-associated projects in the region, and the mixed responses to them in the host countries. Hungary will serve as an example to discuss the difficulties and opportunities China and Eastern European countries encounter while developing and implementing BRI-associated projects. Hungary also offers an interesting case study as it has become a key proponent of Chinese investments in the European Union, yet even in Hungary the implementation of Chinese projects faces problems and obstacles. The talk will zoom in on two projects to illustrate these challenges. The first is the Budapest-Belgrade railway upgrade, a flagship BRI-project meant to showcase China’s ability to ‘build according to EU standards’. The second is Chinese battery-maker CATL’s decision to choose Debrecen, Hungary as the location of its new factory in Eastern Europe, which drew significant local criticism.


Tamás Peragovics is a visiting researcher at ZOiS. His research is focused on China’s political and economic relations with Eastern Europe. He is a research fellow at the Institute of World Economics (Centre for Economic and Regional Studies) in Budapest, Hungary and a part-time assistant professor at Eötvös Loránd University’s International Relations Department.

Julia Langbein is head of the Political Economy and Integration research cluster at ZOiS, where she also leads the research project ‘China, the EU and economic development in Eastern Europe and Eurasia’ as part of De:link//Re:link.

The talk took place at Georgenstr. 23, Berlin, on Tuesday 2 May 2023.