Lithuania, a small country with a 2.8 million population resigned from the China-led “17+1” group. Besides that, it also urged other nations in the forum to do so as well. China set up the forum in 2012 to expand its influence.
Lithuania No Longer a Member of China-led Forum
Lithuania no longer considers itself a “17+1” member. It does not participate in this initiative anymore. Foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis made this announcement on Saturday. The country opened up a trade office in Taiwan. It also spoke against Beijing’s human rights violation. They have also blocked Chinese X-Ray equipment at the airport. He further said that the platform is divisive from the European Union’s perspective. Landsbergis urged EU members to pursue a more effective 27+1 approach. He also stressed the fact that Europe’s strength is in its unity.
China Considered as a Threat to National Security
Lithuania was suspicious of China for a very long time. Many more countries in the region are thinking the same. In 2019, the Baltic state first identified Chinese surveillance as a threat to its national security. China is slowly and steadily expanding its economic and political boundaries. Over time, the security service has become really aggressive. This year in February, the country released its latest threat reports. It was equally contemptuous. Moreover, Beijing tried to exploit the Covid pandemic to dishonor its rivals and improve its image.
Other Countries Distance Themselves from the Forum Too
Lithuania is not the only country in the “17+1” forum that has accused China. There are several other countries that had various expectations from China. However, it seems all their expectations are shattered. Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Romania, and Slovenia have also indicated their diminishing interest in “17+1”. Lithuania’s exit from the China-led forum is a representation of the China-EU deteriorating relationship.