Bledar Feta, Research Associate of ELIAMEP’s South-East Europe Programme, is one of the local experts who worked closely with the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) to produce a series of in-depth case studies that explore China’s influence operations across all members of Beijing’s former 17+1 initiative. In the context of this project, Feta wrote a report analyzing Chinese influence efforts and operations across Albania. As he mentions in his report: “China’s tactics for advancing influence permeate all levels of society in Albania. From major Chinese investments in Albanian air transport, energy, and agriculture, to cultural investments in state-owned radio stations, and Confucius Institutes”. According to Feta, China’s 4 main strategies in Albania are:
- Pushing exports & investments to make Albania’s economy dependent on China.
- Using Chinese state actors to build political influence.
- Fostering a positive image of China in Albanian society.
- Achieving a higher public media profile.
Bledar Feta argues that “this multi-layered approach has turned China into Albania’s third-largest trading partner, increased interest in the history and culture of China, and increased coverage of China-related news by media outlets. China targets Albanians who are particularly vulnerable to Beijing’s narratives”. Feta asserts that these are geared towards “specific societal groups in Albania, providing alternative versions of political, economic, and geopolitical realities.” However, he concludes that “China still sells better in other countries of the region, such as Serbia and North Macedonia, than in Albania. Albania remains anchored in its traditional pro-Western orientation, trying to avoid any kind of political penetration that could lead to overreliance on Beijing”.
You can read the report here.