Polish deputy prime minister, Tomasz Siemoniak, after the China-CEEC summit expressed interest in new Chinese investments in Poland. However it’s not hard to notice that the Polish government has no clear strategy for cooperation with China. Hopes risen by the announcement of strategic partnership between Poland and China in 2011 quickly died out after the Chinese company COVEC had withdrawn from the highway construction project. Polish politicians did little in the following years to improve the situation and the fact that prime minister Ewa Kopacz decided not to attend the China-CEEC summit will not improve the situation. Absence of the Polish prime minister was somewhat justified since during that time she was meeting the president of Ukraine, a country vital to Polish security. However, we must remember that personal contact is very important in Chinese culture and the fact that meeting with the Chinese prime minister wasn’t a priority in Kopacz’s timetable sends a very clear message to the Chinese politicians.
Polish disinterest created an opportunity for other Central European countries. Serbia and China announced strategic partnership in 2009 and during the China-CEEC summit prime ministers of those countries promised to take bilateral relations to an even higher level. Prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, also wants closer cooperation between China and Hungary. Both countries have smaller economies than Poland, but as it was pointed out by Dr. Valbona Zeneli Serbia could become a gateway to the European Union for Chinese goods. There is no doubt that cooperation with Hungary could also help Chinese companies to enter European market.
“Interconnectivity”, which was the topic of the last year’s China-CEEC summit, suggests that China is indeed looking for a suitable gateway to Europe. Moreover, the deals signed during this event prove that China is serious about the cooperation with Serbia. The agreement to build a new railroad connecting Serbia and Hungary is probably the most important result of the summit. Together with Chinese investments in Piraeus it should create a new route for Chinese commodities. Serbia and China are also willing to cooperate with each other on different areas. For example a new unit will be built in the Kostolac Power Plant by a Chinese company. Suitable geographical location and willingness to cooperate with Chinese companies might mean that Serbia for a long time will be the most important Chinese partner in Central Europe. Of course bigger countries like Poland can still steal the spotlight from Serbia. Polish politicians still mention good relations with China among their priorities but the situation is unlikely to change if they do not come up with a coherent strategy.