China's spending in Central and Eastern European countries is helping clear a path toward more investment in Western Europe, one former economic adviser to the Serbian government told CNBC.
Beijing's interest in Central and Eastern Europe is "because they see big potential in their return regarding their path to the European Union," Vladimir Krulj, also president of Serbia's Komercijalna Bank, said. He explained that China was forging relationships with countries that were "more embracing (of) European values."
China has pumped $9 billion into Central and Eastern European nations, according to state-run news outlet Xinhua. Sixteen countries in the region have signed up to China's Belt and Road Initiative, a massive initiative designed to increase Beijing's exports and global political power.