Czech FM says no 'substance' or 'future' for China's 14+1 initiative
The Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic claims China's 14+1 business initiative with numerous international states does not have a future.
The cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries, the 14+1 initiative, has lost its significance for the Czech Republic, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lpavsky said Thursday.
"I thanked the US on their strategic leadership on China. I assured [US] Secretary [Antony] Blinken that we are ready to work with them within the European framework. The 14+1 has neither substance nor future," he said in an interview with Politico.
The 14+1 is an initiative launched by the Chinese Foreign Ministry to promote business and investment relations between China and 14 nations from Central and Eastern Europe. It is also aimed at the areas of culture, science, education, and tourism.
According to Lipavsky, his country is not an active member of the alliance.
"We won't speculate on any possible steps that we might choose to take," he said.
The initiative was formerly known as the 16+1. However, Estonia and Latvia cut their cooperation with China within that format in August 2022.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in April that the bloc would guide its ties with China based on Beijing's approach to the Ukraine war.
At a joint news conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken after their bilateral meeting, Borrell said the EU must make China understand that its "position on Russia's atrocities and war crimes will determine the quality of our relations."
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Moreover, the head of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, Joerg Wuttke, said the Chinese-European trade balance is in a bad state. "Our sales are miserable," Wuttke told AFP in April.
"Last year, we only shipped 1.6 million containers to China, exports went down dramatically -- and China has been incredibly successful, shipping 6.4 million containers into Europe."
European investments in the Asian giant fell by around 50%, except for Germany which poured large investments into producing electric vehicles in China in recent years.
The European diplomat believed that Beijing would bring up Europe's Comprehensive Agreement on Investment with China, which was long stalled by the EU and was later halted due to human rights allegations against the Asian giant, in addition to sanctions.
"Chinese companies have a strong interest to invest in Europe, that's why China is pushing again for the ratification of the investment agreement," Wuttke pointed out.
But the "geopolitical conditions have changed so much since the conclusion of the negotiations in 2020, so there is no chance of progress on that point," he said.