“Go with the Devil You Don’t Know”? Latvians Still Believe in Economic Cooperation with China

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationSpecialist article


    The Baltic countries received international attention for their snub of China’s February “17+1” online summit, chaired by President Xi Jinping. By sending lower-level ministers instead of heads of state, they signaled a joint Lithuanian, Estonian and Latvian turn away from China’s multilateral formats. This turn, however, has not yet completely found its way into Latvian public opinion. Though Latvians on the whole demonstrate Euro-optimism and have negative responses to China when it comes to human rights and freedom, Latvia’s population still holds the most positive views of the People’s Republic of China among 11 surveyed EU member states.[2] But if overwhelmingly pro-EU Latvians do not see Beijing as counter-leverage to Brussels and do not support Beijing on values, what accounts for their overall positive perception of China?

    This article argues that there is still a belief among Latvian society that Chinese wealth could spill over into the Latvian economy via transit, export and investment. When indicating preferred Latvian foreign policy priorities towards China, 81.1% respondents believe policy should be focused on “promotion of trade and investment”, and 62.1% of respondents share some degree of agreement over China’s capability to help the national transit sector.

    A further breakdown of opinions demonstrates a clear prevalence of economic pragmatism over ideology in the Latvian public’s perceptions of the People’s Republic of China.
    Original languageEnglish
    Specialist publicationBaltic Bulletin
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2021

    Field of Science*

    • 5.6 Political science

    Publication Type*

    • 6. Other publications


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