On Thursday, Latvia and Estonia joined their Baltic neighbor Lithuania in withdrawing from a cooperation group between China and more than a dozen Central and Eastern European nations. The action takes place amid Western criticism of China over its increased military pressure on Taiwan, a territory it claims as its own, and Beijing’s deepening of ties with Russia during the invasion of Ukraine. After late last year, Lithuania permitted Taiwan to establish a de facto embassy, and relations between the two countries deteriorated.
Following Latvia’s strategic goals in the current international context, the country’s continued membership in the China group, according to the foreign ministry, “no longer makes sense.” Both Latvia and Estonia said in comments released on Thursday that they will keep pursuing “constructive and pragmatic ties with China” while upholding the rules-based international system and human rights.
The nations that are still participating in the cooperation model are Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Following requests within the country’s parliament to leave the group, the Czech Republic’s foreign minister stated in May that the promise of significant Chinese investments and mutually beneficial commerce were not being met.