China’s rapid global rise has created new challenges for the United States, the European Union, and individual European countries. As China’s economic and political footprint has expanded, Beijing appears to provide an alternative to the West and offers opportunities for rapid economic development. But, China also takes advantage of local vulnerabilities and weaknesses to exert influence. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is just one example of how Beijing is seeking greater economic, political, and soft power in Southeastern, Central, and Eastern Europe – where more favorable regulatory and economic conditions exist than in Western Europe.
While China’s expanding footprint can bring socioeconomic opportunities, it can also exacerbate governance shortfalls, undermine political and economic stability, and complicate the EU’s ability to reach consensus on key issues. Join the American Council on Germany for a discussion about China’s growing influence in Europe with independent journalist Melissa Chan and Dr. Mareike Ohlberg, Senior Fellow in the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
Melissa Chan is an Emmy-nominated journalist based between Los Angeles and Berlin. She has reported everywhere from Cuba to Canada, Mongolia to Moscow, North and South Korea. These days she focuses on transnational issues, often involving China’s influence beyond its borders. She has written for The New York Times where she was nominated for a Loeb Award — business journalism’s highest honor — and for The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Time, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, and more. As a contributor to the Vancouver-based Global Reporting Centre, she investigates the complexities of global trade and its costs on ordinary people.
As a television journalist, Ms. Chan takes viewers on investigative journeys through long-format news documentaries, including the award-winning Fault Lines series. She has reported from Europe as a correspondent for VICE News Tonight, and also presents European broadcaster DW’s news program on Asia. With Al Jazeera English, she served as China correspondent before her expulsion from the country for the channel’s reports. Her work there received awards, including two Human Rights Press Awards from Amnesty International and a citation from the Overseas Press Club. She was listed in Foreign Policy’s Pacific Power Index, a list of 25 people shaping the future of US-China relations.
Dr. Mareike Ohlberg is a senior fellow in the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and leads the Stockholm China Forum. Before joining GMF, she worked as an analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies, where she focused on China’s media and digital policies as well as the Chinese Communist Party’s influence campaigns in Europe. Prior to that, she was an An Wang postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and a postdoctoral fellow at Shih-Hsin University in Taipei. She spent several years living and working in Greater China. She is co-author of the book Hidden Hand: How the Communist Party of China is Reshaping the World (2020). Dr. Ohlberg has a doctoral degree in Chinese studies from the University of Heidelberg and a master’s degree in East Asian regional studies from Columbia University. She is a frequent commentator in the media on the global implications of China’s rise.