China’s regional forum diplomacy

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Series Details No.44, November 2016
Publication Date 24/11/2016
ISSN 2315-1129
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Since the beginning of the 21st century, China has developed cooperation mechanisms with groups of countries as a complement to existing bilateral mechanisms. These plurilateral cooperation mechanisms usually take the shape of regional forums created at China’s behest. They include the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC, created in 2000), the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (2004), the China-Central and Eastern European Countries Cooperation Forum – known as 16+1 (2012), the China-CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) Forum (2015), and the Lancang Mekong Cooperation Framework (2015), among others.

China has also established cooperation mechanisms with the EU (1998) and ASEAN (1996), but they are of a different nature as they are based on existing regional cooperation structures. Although often analysed individually, the true significance of these mechanisms only be put into perspective if the wider global context is taken into account.

China is increasingly engaged in a combination of investments and infrastructure development, forum-building and political messaging around the world with various sub-regional groupings of countries. Could this potentially challenge the role of the EU itself in Europe in the long term?

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