China and the Baltic States: strategic challenges and security dilemmas for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia

Abstract

The article considers traditional and non-traditional security concerns faced by the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the face of China’s increasing presence. Consequently the article first considers the geo-economic challenges posed to these Baltic States through the China and Central and East Europe Countries (CCEEC) grouping, and China’s Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) initiative. This economic leverage translates to political leverage able to be exerted on the Baltic states by China, with regard to human rights and the issue of the Dalai Lama. Moreover, such mechanisms and Chinese financing serves to politically divide the Baltic states, and also divides EU solidarity vis-à-vis China. Finally there are the conventional security issues posed to the Baltic states in the Russia-China naval exercises carried out in Baltic waters in 2017; with China’s role in effect providing implicit support and legitimisation of explicit Russian threats in the Baltic. It concludes by suggesting alternative infrastructure routings to at least reduce the threat of Russian interference.

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