Riga to host huge China summit next year

Riga will play host to the leaders of China and fifteen countries from Central and Eastern Europe next year, the government press service announced Tuesday at this year's equivalent event in China.

"At the meeting, a declaration was adopted stating that next 16+1 meeting of prime ministers will be held in Rīga, and also a center for coordination of logistics and transport of 16+1 format will be set up in Latvia," said an official statement. 

"I am grateful for the high confidence in Latvia, by assigning to set up a logistics coordination secretariat. I hope that we will be able to open it in spring of 2016, when a 16+1 format meeting of ministers for transport will be held in Rīga," said Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma.

Precisely what the "logistics coordination secretariat" will do and the likely costs involved in hosting next year's giant event remain to be clarified.

However, two such "secretariats" have already been formed in the four years of the 16+1 format's existence. One is a Permanent Secretariat at the Chinese Foreign Ministry (2012) the other a Permanent Secretariat for Investment Promotion in Warsaw (2014).

Previous such summits were held in Bucharest, Warsaw and Belgrade before this year's Suzhou event.

The format has come under criticism from some countries such as Germany who fear it may be an attempt to set up different regional blocs and to blur EU unity of relations with China. 

While politicians will likely point to the prestige of hosting such an event, other groups such as health workers and teachers - who are due to strike over pay on Friday - are less likely to be impressed.

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