The proposal sounded promising: A major power wants to channel money into Central and Eastern European states, develop infrastructure, revive old factories, and invest in people and local projects that are unable to attract Western investors. The 16+1 format appeared on the scene and a race to become “China’s gateway to Europe” began. For some participants, however, the finish line never came in sight, and economic hopes remained unfulfilled. There are no fireworks to mark the tenth anniversary of its founding. Instead, the cooperation format continues to shrink with the withdrawal of Latvia and Estonia.
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