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Eastern Europe changes its attitude towards Beijing


While Beijing vigorously promoted the 17+1 mechanism between China and Central plus Eastern Europe and actively implemented the One Belt One Road project locally, many Eastern European countries equated China with Russia as the main threat.

The change of these former communist countries’ attitudes towards China is becoming a new trend.

Esma, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Estonian Parliament, said on July 24 that he, like other lawmakers, condemned China’s promotion of the National Security Law in Hong Kong. Estonia and more than 20 other countries made a similar statement at the UN Human Rights Commission at the end of last month.

Three days ago, the main opposition party in Estonia, the leader of the Reform Party, Karl Las, criticized China’s persecution of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, just like the German Nazis treated Jews. She called on the Estonian ruling authorities to be tougher with China. While criticizing Russia for human rights violations, they should also criticize China and especially emphasized in the local media that after Taiwan provided medical protection supplies to Estonia, the Baltic state officials did not dare to publicly thank Taiwan.

Karlras said that certain members of the European Union rely on Chinese investment, which prevents the European Union from unifying its position on China and he called on the EU to formulate clear rules to prevent Chinese companies from expanding their influence in Europe.

Estonian President Kalluraid told the French Le Monde in mid-July that Europe should actively arm itself against the threats of Russia and China. She said that in the past, the Western world ignored the growth of China’s power, but now Western democracy is facing challenges from the Chinese communist system.

During the epidemic, people in European countries, including Estonia, began to doubt democracy. Some people even believed that China was more effective in controlling the epidemic however, the authoritarian regime always covered up the truth and she especially emphasized that people in European countries such as Estonia should be aware of the advantages of being a free citizen living in a democratic country.

This is the third time the President of Estonia has mentioned China’s threat in less than a year. Calliulide first stated in November last year that the threat from China may even be greater than Russia. At the Munich Security Conference in Germany in February this year, she again called for vigilance against the expansion of China’s influence.

Only more than a year ago, Estonia, China, and high-level officials of the two countries still interacted frequently. Calliu Laide visited China in September 2018 and met with Chinese leaders such as Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang. However, these recent speeches by leading Estonian politicians against China reflect a new trend in the changing attitudes of Eastern European countries towards China.

Eastern Europe to restrict investment and attach importance to Chinese intelligence activities

Many Eastern European countries with a history of being enslaved and ravaged by the Soviet Union used to treat Russia only as their main security threat. China is vigorously promoting the One Belt One Road project and the 17+1 mechanism between China and Central & Eastern European countries.

The security reports issued by the three Baltic countries now equate China and Russia as major security threats. The reports issued by the security agencies of Estonia and Latvia at the beginning of this year and at the end of December last year mentioned the Chinese threat for the first time. The report issued by the Lithuanian security agency in February this year mentioned the Chinese threat again after last year.

The Estonian security agency’s report stated that, in addition to Russia, Chinese intelligence agencies are also the most active on the ground in Eastern Europe, especially after Estonia joined NATO and the European Union.

The report said that since China’s overseas investments must first be approved by the ruling Communist Party, these investments have also become a tool for China to expand its influence. The report specifically warns that China first allows countries like Estonia to rely on China, and then uses this dependence to exert pressure on small countries like Estonia.

The head of the Lithuanian security agency Yaunishkis said after a special security meeting of the local parliament on July 1 that Lithuania has established a whole set of mechanisms to prevent negative investments from threatening countries such as China and Russia and said that Lithuania is now safe and the situation is under control.

Yaunishkis said that Chinese and Russian investments are interested in Lithuania’s energy, national infrastructure, and information technology.

China has promoted the One Belt One Road plan and tried to invest in the reconstruction of the famous Lithuanian Klaipeda Port, but this plan is now on hold.

Romania announced in June that it would withdraw from the agreement signed with China on the construction of two nuclear power plant units. Romania will re-tender for the construction of these two nuclear power plant units involving several billion euros.

Czech media quoted a government document in May this year to report that China and Russia may be excluded from the bidding for a new nuclear power plant construction project in the Czech Republic due to national strategic security issues.

The mayor of Prague, the Czech capital, He Jipu also criticized China and Russia for interfering in Czech internal affairs. He Jipu angered China for his support for Taiwan and Tibetans in exile.

The report issued by the Czech security agency in November last year also mentioned the threats from China and Russia again. The report said that the intelligence agencies of these two countries are the most active in the Czech Republic, and the goal of the two countries is to undermine the unity of the European Union.

According to the report, Chinese intelligence agencies have set their sights on the Czech scientific community, security and government agencies.

In response to the Baltic Sea and other Eastern European countries that viewed China as a threat in their security reports, Chinese diplomatic mission in the country launched a counterattack, criticizing these countries for their Cold War mentality.

Poland is considered the leader of Eastern Europe. Regarding the issue of China’s threat, Polish officials have not yet made a clear statement like other Eastern European countries. However, after China and Russia held their first joint naval exercise in the Baltic Sea in 2017, Poland, a Baltic country, also responded. 

At the time, Polish Minister of Defense Matzelevich said that the strategic alliance between China and Russia would pose a threat to the entire free world.

Last year, Poland arrested a senior local executive of the Chinese telecom giant Huawei on suspicion of espionage. Huawei has been very active in Eastern Europe for many years but the three Baltic countries have begun to keep pace with the United States, attach importance to the threat from China in the 5G field, and restrict the use of Huawei products and services.

Iskenderov, a Russian scholar on Eastern Europe, said that the criticisms against China and Russia are very similar.

Iskanderov said: “These criticisms of Russia and China involve human rights, corruption, and ideological fields, as well as interference in local affairs and economic operations.

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Reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as the United States, Mainland China, Brazil, Mexico, Italy and Germany. Love to Travel and report daily on destinations reopening with a focus on Domestic travel within Europe, North America and the Caribbean. Fan of the English Premier League , the German Bundesliga,, the Spanish La Liga.

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