Latvia, Estonia Exit China Cooperation Group

Latvia and Estonia withdrew from China’s cooperation group with over a dozen Central and Eastern European nations on Thursday, following their Baltic neighbor Lithuania’s exit last year. The move comes amid Western criticism of China over its escalation of military activities near Taiwan and Beijing’s strengthening ties with Russia during Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Relations between Lithuania and China have become tense after the Baltic state allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in its capital Vilnius late last year.

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

Still, both Latvia and Estonia said in their official statements that they would continue to work towards constructive and pragmatic relations with China while respecting the rules-based international order and human rights.

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

The Czech foreign ministry said in May the promise of large Chinese investments and mutually beneficial trade were not being fulfilled, following calls within the country’s parliament to quit the group.

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