PRAGUE – The Czech Republic is considering “all options” to engage with a Chinese-led 16 + 1 platform for cooperation with Central and Eastern European states, the foreign ministry said on Friday.
Several past Czech governments, as well as President Milos Zeman, have sought to deepen ties with China, but a series of failed Chinese investment projects, Czech warnings against Chinese 5G telecom technology and a change of government in Prague last year have cooled interest.
“The promise of 16 + 1 major initiatives, economic diplomacy and massive investment and mutually beneficial trade is not being fulfilled even after 10 years,” Minister Jan Lipawski told CTK news agency, a spokesman for the ministry told Reuters. .
The statement came after the Czech parliament’s lower house foreign committee on Thursday called on the cabinet to leave the group.
The new Czech center-right cabinet has promised to build ties with democracies, including self-governing Taiwan – which China sees as an isolated province – and has put its China policies under review.
“The impeccable commitment leads us to consider all options for our future role in the platform,” he said.
“The government, in its manifesto, has stated its intention to reconsider our relationship with China. Our approach to 16 + 1 and its future is a part of this process. “(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Nick McPhee)