Latvia and Estonia announced their withdrawal from the “17 + 1” format, which was created 10 years ago to promote economic relations between China and Eastern European countries. In justifying the unfriendly act towards China, the three Baltic Republics, which includes Lithuania, claimed that they placed great hope in economic benefits with China, but this did not materialise as there was very little investment from the Asian country. They also claimed that trade was damaged by the imbalance, which is in Beijing’s favour.
Interestingly, other members of “17 + 1” do not complain about the results of cooperation with Beijing, thus bringing to question why the three Baltic countries do. The Baltic countries decision was instigated by China’s unrelenting commitment to its relationship with Russia despite pressure from the West, and not because of some supposed disappointment in the volume of cooperation with China. Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu admitted as much on ERR radio, saying that the decision to withdraw from “17 + 1” was because of “China’s failure to condemn Russia’s aggression in Ukraine”.
The Baltic states have long held an anti-Moscow stance, perhaps the harshest in the EU. Although the Baltic states claim their anti-Russia stance is partly due to the historical legacy of the Soviet Union and Russian Empire, this is only a cheapening of history and also ignores numerous Lithuanian attempts over the centuries to capture Moscow. Rather, the behaviour of the ruling elites of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia is because of their obedience to the United States and NATO countries in the hope of receiving concessions and advantages, and not because of past grievances.