26th Sep 2022

Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties

Listen to article

Latvia and Estonia have joined Lithuania in sharply reducing ties with China after pulling out of a diplomatic club set up by Beijing in 2012.

Both Riga and Tallinn on Thursday (11 August) issued similar worded statements on the withdrawal, noting however they would still strive "for constructive and pragmatic" relations with China.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

But the latest move means the so-called 16+1 eastern European framework with China is now reduced to 14.

"China's 17+1 format was already redundant and divisive long before Lithuania quit," said Gabrielius Landsbergis, Lithuania's minister of foreign affairs.

"Latvia and Estonia are now closing the door too. 14+1 should be replaced with EU27+1," he added.

The Baltic states' grievances include trade imbalances with China, Beijing's war rhetoric against the democracy stronghold in Taiwan, as well as its cosy relations with Moscow.

The latter has spooked the three Baltic nations, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Latvia's parliament, also on Thursday, declared Russia a state sponsor for terrorism.

"Russia has long deserved this status with its actions in Ukraine and beyond," said Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's minister of foreign affairs.

It also means Latvia will no longer issue tourist visas to Russian and Belarusian citizens. Estonia has also stopped issuing the visas, amid calls for other EU states to follow suit.

For its part, Lithuania pulled out of the China platform last year after it had set up a representative office in Taiwan.

Beijing responded by banning Lithuanian products, in a move described by a Vilnius as "economic coercion".

Lithuania was also the only EU state to publicly support US House speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent visit to Taiwan.

Agnė Vaiciukevičiūtė, Lithuania's deputy minister for transport, had also made a visit.

The trips had triggered another bout of aggressive rhetoric from Beijing, which views Taiwan as part of China.

Remaining 14+1 China club members include several EU states: Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.


EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive

The EU needs to be clear eyed about China's new diplomatic charm offensive, as it's more likely driven by short-term necessity than any fundamental policy re-assessment.


How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes

A Special Tribunal on Russian war crimes in Ukraine must be convened, because no permanent or existing international judicial institution is endowed with jurisdiction over Russian high-ranking officials, writes the head of the Ukraine delegation to the Council of Europe.


Losing on the Ukrainian battlefield will not unseat Putin

Notwithstanding the remarkable Ukrainian advances, a Russian defeat would not necessarily translate into regime change in Moscow. It is likely Putin will try to spin his military setbacks as evidence of the existential threat facing Russia.

News in Brief

  1. More Russians now crossing Finnish land border
  2. Report: EU to propose €584bn energy grid upgrade plan
  3. Morocco snubs Left MEPs probing asylum-seeker deaths
  4. EU urges calm after Putin's nuclear threat
  5. Council of Europe rejects Ukraine 'at gunpoint' referendums
  6. Lithuania raises army alert level after Russia's military call-up
  7. Finland 'closely monitoring' new Russian mobilisation
  8. Flights out of Moscow sell out after Putin mobilisation order

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. 'Grazie Italia': Far-right wins power in Rome
  2. How the EU is failing to help the hippo
  3. Germany sued over air pollution levels
  4. Meloni mood and energy in focus This WEEK
  5. Ireland joins EU hawks on Russia, as outrage spreads
  6. Editor's weekly digest: Plea for support edition
  7. Investors in renewables face uncertainty due to EU profits cap
  8. How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us