China’s great expansion to the West


The "16 + 1" summit in Riga bringing together the countries of Eastern and Central Europe and China ended this weekend. In addition, Belarus joined the summit as an observer, changing its format to "17 + 1".


Such a summit was held for the first time in 2012 in Warsaw. However, the idea belonged to China. At the moment, the organization, besides China, includes 11 EU member states and 5 Balkan countries: Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Czech Republic, and Estonia. Belarus is planning to join the group.


The summit is not of a political character. Moreover, this would be impossible taking into consideration the strong difference in the ideological vectors of its participants. For Beijing, certainly the priority path in building relations with the West is economic expansion. The activities of the summit have a corresponding character. The main fields of cooperation were chosen to be infrastructure and commercial projects.

Tourism, trade, and exploration

If Beijing is trying to develop the New Silk Road project, then Latvia, according to Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis, is interested in development including online trade with China. Kučinskis said that Riga is ready to provide an electronic trading platform as well as services in the fields of transport, logistics, and e-commerce.

The Latvian leadership believes that all of this will improve the country's image in the eyes of the world community, especially Asian countries. Riga considers tourism to be one of Latvia's priorities, and China ranks first place in terms of the volume of outbound tourism. Its citizens do not skip shopping during their holidays.

However, Internet commerce is of particular interest to Beijing, but in a different way. Many experts think that internet commerce is a form of Chinese intelligence operation. Latvia, as a member state of NATO also located directly on the alliance's frontline borders, can have very interesting information.