Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing on Friday dismissed any international concerns about military exercises with Russia, saying the maneuvers were a peacekeeping exercise and not war games.
Li, in Latvia on the last leg of a Baltic tour that has also taken him to Estonia and Lithuania, said the exercises were not directed at any one country and should not be perceived by other countries as a threat.
The exercises, which conclude next Thursday, are the result of strengthening ties between Russia and China over shared concern about U.S. dominance of world affairs. U.S. officials have said they hope the exercises help to support a shared interest in regional stability.
Li met with Latvian Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis and Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks to discuss strengthening economic, cultural and political ties between the two countries.
He said he hopes to enlist Latvia's support in getting the European Union to lift its 15-year-old arms embargo against China - a move the United States vehemently opposes.
Li called the embargo "political discrimination," and said he hoped the EU had "enough political wisdom and political will" to resolve the issue independently.
Earlier this week, Estonian and Lithuanian leaders discussed with Li manufacturers' concerns about an influx of cheap Chinese textiles and electronics that has flooded the European market.
On Tuesday, U.S. and Chinese textile negotiators began two days of talks in San Francisco over limiting a flood of low-cost clothing and textile imports from China.
After the abolition of clothing and textile import quotas on Jan. 1, Chinese shipments to the United States are up 58 percent so far this year.
Li leaves Latvia on Friday for Serbia-Montenegro, the AP reports.