Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Public Affairs/International Relations

First Advisor

Shuai Jin

Second Advisor

Paul A. Kowert

Third Advisor

Ursula Tafe


China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the most ambitious international development project in modern history. This study investigates to what extent, China’s investment through the BRI poses a challenge to the existing liberal order standards in the European Union, specifically in terms of whether EU standards are followed among EU candidate countries. It further examines whether domestic public opinions toward the EU and China explain variations in candidate countries’ compliances with EU standards. Employing a small-n comparison between three EU candidate countries who vary in domestic public opinion toward the EU and have received highway infrastructure funding through the BRI (Serbia, Montenegro and North Macedonia), the study shows that China’s investment presents challenges to EU enlargement because all three candidate countries did not comply with EU standards in order to secure China’s investment. After the projects were secured, domestic public opinion influences whether these countries satisfy EU membership standards, the Acquis Communautaire, when implementing the infrastructure projects. Euro-Sceptic/China-Optimist countries were more likely to make non-aligned project decisions impacting EU accession goals and Euro-Optimist/China-Sceptic countries were more inclined to follow EU governance standards.


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