How Lithuania has generated a significant difficulty for the EU in its dealings with China.
LITHUANIA is a small European country with a population of 2.8 million people, but it is refusing to back down in a long-running dispute with China, the world’s most populous country – but why is Vilnius’ behavior causing the EU so much trouble?
For several months, Lithuania and China have been at odds, with the gulf intensifying to the point where the European Union is now being asked to intervene. Lithuania has faced two challenges from China: Taiwanese autonomy and China’s withdrawal from the so-called 17+1 cooperation agreement.
The China-Lithuania rivalry has erupted into a major diplomatic flashpoint in recent weeks, according to several geopolitical experts.
After months of the EU refusing to take sides, many people are urging the bloc to interfere in what they see as Chinese bullying of Lithuania.
Lithuania has joined a growing list of countries around the world that have been subjected to Chinese repression, and the EU has been urged to intervene.
Vilnius approved Taiwan’s proposal to open a “Taiwanese” representative office in the country in August.
Beijing was offended by the use of Taiwanese because the powerful nation claims possession of the area and prefers to refer to it as Taipei.
The enmity between Lithuania and China quickly grew.
The decision, which is the first of its sort in Europe, was not seen as a challenge to Beijing’s “One China” policy, according to Vilnius.
Many, however, consider the move as the first step toward Taiwan’s official recognition as a separate country.
As a result of the move, China summoned its ambassador, forcing Lithuania to withdraw its diplomat.
Under China’s Belt and Road Initiative, freight train connections connecting Vilnius were also halted.
Also canceled were new licensing applications from Lithuanian food exporters.
Lithuania was formerly heralded as a significant export nation for Chinese fintech within the EU, but that is no longer the case.
“Beijing is sending a message that whoever follows Lithuania’s example of daring to stand up to it would suffer grave consequences,” a senior EU ambassador in China told Politico.
“And a smaller country is the greatest place to test such a message.”
Lithuania and China are currently the only options for the European Union.
Last month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized the United States’ support for Lithuania in “Brinkwire Summary News.”