Latvia and Estonia Withdraw from Eastern European Forum Backed by China

2023-07-03 17:50:09 By : admin
Latvia and Estonia have withdrawn from a Chinese-backed forum aimed at improving relations with Eastern European countries. The move comes amid growing concerns over Chinese influence in the region, with some warning that Beijing is using economic initiatives to gain political leverage.

The forum in question is known as the 17+1, and it brings together China and 17 countries from Central and Eastern Europe. The initiative was launched by China in 2012 as an attempt to deepen economic ties with the region and promote investment.
Latvia, Estonia leave China-backed East Europe forum

Latvia and Estonia's decision to leave the forum is significant, as it is the first time that any of the participating countries have withdrawn. The move came after Latvia's Foreign Minister, Edgars Rinkevics, announced on Twitter that his country would no longer participate in the group, saying that "the format is not delivering".

In a joint statement, Latvia and Estonia said that they wanted to focus on strengthening their relationships with the European Union, rather than with individual countries. They also expressed concern about China's treatment of its minority Uighur population, saying that they could not "remain silent" on the issue.

The move was welcomed by some analysts, who have long argued that China's initiatives in the region are aimed at isolating the EU and undermining its unity. They say that Beijing is using economic incentives to create a web of relationships with individual countries, which could ultimately be used to advance its own interests.

Others, however, have warned that the move could backfire, as China is likely to respond by increasing its engagement with other countries in the region. Some also argue that Latvia and Estonia may be missing out on potential economic benefits by opting out of the forum.

China has invested heavily in Eastern Europe in recent years, with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) providing a major source of funding. The initiative has been criticized by some as a way for China to gain influence over countries in the region, with concerns raised about the environmental impact of some of the projects.

Despite these concerns, many countries in the region have welcomed Chinese investment, seeing it as a way to create jobs and boost economic growth. However, some have also expressed concern about the debt burden that comes with accepting Chinese loans, and the potential for China to use its economic leverage to exert political influence.

In recent years, there has been growing pushback against China's economic initiatives in the region, with some countries expressing concern about the strategic implications of deepening ties with Beijing. The decision by Latvia and Estonia to leave the 17+1 may signal a broader shift in attitudes towards China in Eastern Europe, and could have implications for China's wider global ambitions.