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East European nations grow disillusioned with China

Delayed economic cooperation deepens sense of detachment from Beijing

A man wearing a protective mask in Belgrade, Serbia, passes a billboard depicting Chinese President Xi Jinping, which reads 'Thank you brother Xi', in April.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- China, controlled by its all-powerful Chinese Communist Party, was not perceived particularly favorably, but was nevertheless a promising business partner, diplomats and intellectuals told me when I visited the Czech Republic and Hungary two years ago.

Enthusiasm for China was strong in Eastern Europe at the time, amid a period of rapid economic construction. But expectations among these nations of the support that China could offer are starting to turn into disappointment.

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