Tuesday, 05 July 2022

Una Aleksandra Berzina-Cerenkova*

The Baltic Resilience to China’s “Divide and Rule”

Full text PDF [EN]

Suggested citation:

Berzina-Cerenkova, U.A. (2021). The Baltic Resilience to China’s “Divide and Rule”. Lex Portus, (7)2, 11-38. https://doi.org/10.26886/2524-101X.7.2.2021.2

*Head of Riga Stradins University China Studies Centre, Head of the Asia Programme, Latvian Institute of International Affairs (21 Pils street, LV-1050, Riga, Republic of Latvia).



The article examines the interactions of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with China in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) format. First, it explores three most widespread criticisms of the Chinese BRI approach, namely: 1. The risk of Beijing becoming legitimating factor for strains on democracy, freedom and the rule of law; 2. Support towards the Chinese interpretation of values and tolerance of censorship; 3. Debt arising from infrastructure loans. Further, the article tries to establish to what extent did the Baltic states remain resilient to them, offering possible explanations to the Baltic cases along three lines – systemic resilience, discursive resilience, and financial resilience. The article concludes that BRI is taking different shapes in different regions, and that local political culture along with wider supra-national organizations determines the range and response to BRI, therefore, national institutional frameworks in combination with overwatch from supranational standard-enforcing institutions are the leading factors of countries’ resilience to risks stemming from BRI. Methodologically, the article employs qualitative approaches to data, including discourse analysis, document analysis and historic analysis. The primary sources include documents, agreements and statements of officials from China, the Baltic states, Italy, and the EU, as well as secondary sources including research publications, media reports, and mutually comparable national data.

The key words: Belt and Road, China, Baltic states, resilience, institutions.



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Editorial Board Address

Ukraine, Odesa, Fontanska Doroga, 23
National University “Odessa Academy of Law”,
Department of Maritime and Customs Law