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Latvia and Estonia leave the Eastern European forum, 'revenge' against China

Latvia and Estonia leave the Eastern European forum, 'revenge' against

Latvia and Estonia have walked out of a China-backed forum aimed at strengthening relations with eastern European countries, in what appears to be a new setback for China's increasingly assertive diplomacy.

The decision comes after China's deepening ties 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 criticize Russia and has condemned punishing economic sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West.

It also comes after Beijing launched economic and diplomatic retaliation against another Baltic state, Lithuania, in retaliation for its enhanced ties with the self-governing island democracy of Taiwan, which China claims as its territory and threatens to annex by force. China's growing threat and recent threatening military exercises near Taiwan have drawn a strong response from the US, EU, Japan, Australia and others.

"Given the current priorities of Latvia's foreign and trade policy, Latvia has decided to terminate its participation in the framework of the cooperation of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and China," the Latvian Foreign Ministry said.

Estonia issued a similar statement, saying it "will continue to work towards constructive and pragmatic relations with China, which includes advancing EU-China relations in accordance with the rules-based international order and values ​​such as human rights ".

China created the forum to strengthen relations with EU members, as well as with Serbia and others. China initially called the forum a "17 plus one" deal, but the number of European partners has now dropped to 14.

Source: Euronews

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