Czechs considering 'all options' regarding China's 16+1 group

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky addresses journalists ahead of a Nato meeting in Germany, on May 15, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

PRAGUE (REUTERS) - The Czech Republic is considering "all options" concerning its engagement with the China-led 16+1 platform for cooperation with central and east European states, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday (May 20).

Several past Czech governments as well as President Milos Zeman have been keen to deepen ties with China, but the interest has cooled since a series of failed Chinese investment projects, Czech warnings against Chinese 5G telecoms technology, and a change of government in Prague last year.

"The main initiatives of 16+1, economic diplomacy and the promise of massive investments and mutually beneficial trade, are not being fulfilled even after 10 years," minister Jan Lipavsky said in comments to news agency CTK, sent by the ministry's spokeswoman to Reuters.

The statement followed a Czech lower house of parliament foreign committee's call on the Cabinet on Thursday to quit the group.

The new Czech centre-right Cabinet has pledged to build up relations with democracies, including self-ruled Taiwan - which China sees as a breakaway province - and put its China policies under review.

"The unfulfilled promises lead to the consideration of all options of our future role in the platform," he said.

"The government, in its manifesto, announced its intention to revise our relations with China. Our approach to 16+1 and its future is a part of this process."

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