PM: Closer China ties needed, ISS cautions on Chinese secret services

Jüri Ratas (Centre), here addressing the press in Brussels on 10 April, is in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on Friday.
Jüri Ratas (Centre), here addressing the press in Brussels on 10 April, is in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on Friday. Source: AFP/Scanpix

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) noted on Friday the importance of ensuring equal opportunities for entrepreneurs of both regions on the local markets as well as the respect of intellectual property in the economic relations between Europe and China.

Mr Ratas is in Dubrovnik, Croatia, attending a summit with Chinese leaders and those of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries.

"The relations between China and Europe are constantly deepening. This offers many good opportunities for Estonian companies as well,'' Mr Ratas said, according to BNS.

''For this reason, I am glad that [Estonian companies] Eesti Energia, Magnetic MRO and PRFoods are here at the economic forum here. It is important for Estonia and for Europe that better opportunities are established for our companies in competing on the Chinese market as well, and that this business activity has fewer unjustified restrictions," he continued, according to a press release.

Mr Ratas is also set to meet his Croatian opposite number, Andrej Andrej Plenković, as well as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, with a view to discussing business, tourism and cultural cooperation.

"Trade, cultural and educational cooperation as well as tourism are growing between Estonia and China. This is why we are interested in better railway connections and direct flights. In addition, we can significantly improve the access of our food producers to the Chinese market and our tourism and economic cooperation could be boosted even by the mutual recognition of driver's licenses, for example," Mr Ratas added, noting that the importance Estonia places on secure digital connections, in facilitating this.

A fish export deal is due to be signed by outgoing rural affairs minister Tarmo Tamm (Centre) and China, adding to earlier, similar agreements, including for the export of Estonian chicken to China.

Estonian companies are also participating in a concurrently-running business forum.

The 16 + 1 meet, which sits China together with 11 EU CEE nations and five non-EU western Balkan countries, is later to be followed by Greece's accession to the group, it is reported.

ISS cautions on China secret services approach

Meanwhile, Estonia's Internal Security Service (ISS) has noted a rise in online recruitment attempts by Chinese intelligence authorities, which have been focussing on EU citizens, the yearbook says.

While much of the yearbook is focussed on the activities of Russian Federation secret services and related bodies, the ISS says that both public officials and professional people have been enticed online by lucrative offers of work or foreign trips, which ISS says is most likely the work of Chinese secret services.

The initial offer, being paid for compiling an apparently innocent summary or analysis, may later lead to a deeper collaborative relationship involving requests or demands to pass on state secrets or other confidential information, the yearbook claims, appealing to readers who may have been so approached to report this to the ISS immediately, noting that collaborating with foreign secret service agencies in such a way is a punishable offence. The yearbook elsewhere reports that several men have been jailed in the past year, mostly for around three to four years, for cooperating with Russian Federation bodies like the FSB or GRU.

The ISS website (called Kaitsepolitsei, or KAPO, in Estonian) is here.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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