Copyright AP Photo/Olivier Matthys–
Latvia and Estonia say they have left a Chinese-backed forum aimed at boosting relations with Eastern European countries, in what appears to be a new setback for China’s increasingly assertive diplomacy.
The move follows China’s boosting of its relations with Russia, whose invasion of Ukraine is seen as a possible first step in a series of moves against countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. China has refused to criticise Russia and has condemned punishing economic sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West.
Weeks before the invasion, President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing and declared their bilateral relations had “no limits” in a joint statement.
The move also comes after Beijing launched economic and diplomatic retaliation against another Baltic state, Lithuania, in retaliation for its expanded ties with the self-governing island democracy of Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory and threatens to annex by force. China’s increasing assertiveness and recent threatening military exercises near Taiwan have brought a sharp backlash from the US, the EU, Japan, Australia and others.
“In view of the current priorities of Latvian foreign and trade policy, Latvia has decided to cease its participation in the cooperation framework of Central and Eastern European Countries and China,” Latvia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday.
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The country “will continue to strive for constructive and pragmatic relations with China both bilaterally, as well as through EU-China cooperation based on mutual benefit, respect for international law, human rights and the international rules-based order,” the statement said.
Estonia issued a similar statement, saying it would “continue to work towards constructive and pragmatic relations with China, which includes advancing EU-China relations in line with the rules-based international order and values such as human rights.”
By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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