Monday, January 17, 2022

Analyst: Even EU members are taking ‘wait and see’ approach on China-Lithuania standoff

Taiwan has pledged $1 billion to Lithuania in its latest move to counter China’s pressure on the small Baltic nation – the first EU member to allow Taipei to use its name on a de facto embassy.

Taiwan’s promise made on Tuesday will help fund joint projects in half a dozen regions and comes after a January 5 agreement to invest $200 million in Lithuanian industry.

The joint investment of $1.2 billion is intended to counter China’s growing pressure on Vilnius since November 18, when Lithuanian authorities allowed Taiwan to open a representative office in its capital under the name “Taiwan” instead of “Chinese Taipei”. .

That gesture upset China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory. In the past two months, China has recalled its ambassador from Vilnius, ordering Lithuania’s ambassador to leave Beijing, and it has imposed a sanctions against Lithuania, all of its exports as well as Lithuanian-made components. Any EU products that use is boycotted.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called the $1.2 billion investment “an attempt by Taiwanese officials to expand space for Taiwan’s independence activities with dollar diplomacy.”

China sees Taiwan finally returning to its control, even though many Taiwanese see themselves as a self-governing nation.

“None of us thought that the volume of trade between Lithuania and China was so large, so we thought China would not use economic sanctions against them,” said Chang Fu-chang, European at Tamkang University in Taiwan. an associate professor at the graduate institute of the study, told VOA Mandarin. “But we were wrong.”

Bor Yunchang, professor of economics at the University of Chinese Culture in Taipei, is pessimistic about Taiwanese investments. He told VOA Mandarin: “Any investment made for political gain will be on thin ice. It may not be as effective in connecting the two countries as capital flows between the private sectors.

The building with the representative office of Taiwan is seen in Vilnius, Lithuania in a photo taken on November 18, 2021.

China’s revenge

In most European countries and the United States, Taiwan uses the name Taipei for its foreign offices, which are embassies in all but their official designation. Lithuania’s move comes at a time when several governments are exploring expanded ties with Taiwan, a high-tech industry powerhouse, even as Beijing’s increasingly assertive foreign and military policy in the region has stymied the world. has created uneasiness in me.

Taiwan’s presence in Vilnius marks its first new representative office in Europe since the Taipei Representative Office opened in Bratislava, Slovakia in 2003. When the office opened, China’s foreign ministry accused Lithuania of “undermining Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity” and asked Vilnius to “immediately rectify the mistakes.”

“This development is really striking,” Timothy Heath, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, told the VOA’s Russian service, referring to the Vilnius office. “This is the first time a European country has formally recognized Taiwan in decades. This is a huge development and China is obviously very angry with this change.

Relations between the two countries were deteriorating before Taiwan’s new office opened. In August, Beijing stopped approving new permits for Lithuanian food exports to China and stopped direct freight train service to Lithuania. Then, in November, China began to pressure companies in the European Union to stop using Lithuanian components.

Lithuania’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Mantas Adomeneas, told Reuters in December that China was “sending a message to multinational companies that if they use parts and supplies from Lithuania, they should no longer be able to sell them in the Chinese market or obtain supplies there.” will not be allowed.”

In a videoconference with Taiwan’s National Development Council minister Kung Ming-sien on Tuesday, Lithuania’s Minister of Economy and Innovation, Orino Armonata, said Vilnius was already seeing companies cancel contracts with Lithuanian providers due to pressure from Beijing. Had been.

“I think China is very concerned that Lithuania is setting an example and that more countries in Europe may follow the example of Lithuania. I think that is why China has reacted so harshly,” Heath said. said.

This general view shows the Lithuanian Embassy in Beijing on August 10, 2021.

This general view shows the Lithuanian Embassy in Beijing on August 10, 2021.

future unclear

Chang of Taiwan’s Tamkang University said China’s targeting of multinationals in EU member states outside Lithuania is particularly effective because enterprises value the lucrative Chinese market.

He said Lithuania’s biggest trading partners include two other Baltic countries – Estonia and Latvia – and Russia and the European Union.

Chang said that “Taiwan has stepped up its efforts to develop trade relations with Vilnius, but Lithuania’s export structure is unlikely to change in the short term.”

Lithuania’s leaders also have differing opinions regarding their country’s trade policy with China. In early January, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said that allowing the use of the Taiwan designation was a “mistake”.

Chang said external pressures and internal disputes were hindering the Lithuanian government’s efforts to gain public support for its policy on China and Taiwan. He said that within the government, the separation of views of the President and the Prime Minister has triggered a clash between pro-China and anti-China factions.

“So the big question is how long can the Lithuanian government stand with Taiwan,” Chang told VOA Mandarin. “That $1.2 billion is not a huge amount, so, long term, it’s hard to say where the economic relationship between the two countries will be.”

Heath of the RAND Corporation said that many countries are adopting a “wait and see” attitude to see if they want to consider Lithuania’s way.

“I think that in the near future, the EU recognizes the importance of trade relations with China. The big countries – France, Germany, Italy – are in no hurry to destabilize their trade relations with China,” he told VOA Mandarin told.

Heath continued: “Still, I think countries in Europe and around the world are watching closely: What happens to Lithuania? Has it withdrawn its ties with Taiwan? Or does it keep it? Whatever it decides, many countries in the world will be watching carefully and wondering what this could mean for their own relations with Taiwan.”

VOA Russian Service reporter Vadim Allen contributed to this report generated by VOA Mandarin Service.

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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