October 2, 2022

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Latvia and Estonia withdraw from the China Cooperation Group

Latvia and Estonia withdraw from the China Cooperation Group

The Chinese national flag in Beijing, China, April 29, 2020. REUTERS / Thomas Peter / File Photo

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VILNIUS (Reuters) – Latvia and Estonia withdrew from a cooperation group between China and more than a dozen countries in Central and Eastern Europe on Thursday, following in the footsteps of its Baltic neighbor Lithuania, which pulled out last year.

The move comes amid Western criticism of China over mounting military pressure on democratically governed Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, and Beijing’s strengthening of ties with Russia during the invasion of Ukraine.

Relations between Lithuania and China worsened after the former allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy late last year.

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The Latvian Foreign Ministry said the country’s continued participation in the China Group “is no longer in line with our strategic objectives in the current international environment”.

Both Latvia and Estonia said in comments published on Thursday that they would continue to work for “constructive and practical relations with China” while respecting the rules-based international order and human rights.

The Estonian Foreign Ministry could not be reached for comment.

The Chinese embassies in Riga, Latvia and Tallinn, Estonia, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia are among the countries that are still in the form of cooperation.

The Czech Foreign Ministry said in May that the promise of significant Chinese investment and mutually beneficial trade had not been fulfilled, following calls within the country’s parliament to withdraw from the group. Read more

Additional reporting by Augustus Stankevicius and Terry Solsvik; Additional reporting by Michael Martina and Simon Lewis in Washington. Writing by Joanna Plosinska; Editing by Josie Kao and John Stonestreet

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