The Lithuanian parliament held an international conference on May 24 to address the potential consequences of the Chinese communist government’s pressure on the states of Lithuania and the European Union.
The conference focused on how the European Union and the United States can strengthen their trans-Atlantic cooperation in cooperation with China to thwart its efforts “to dominate the world and destroy the current world order on both sides of the Atlantic. Preventing the ocean, based on the values of liberal democracy, ”reads a statement from the Lithuanian Parliament.
Deputy Chairman of the Lithuanian Parliament and Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė said at the conference that ‘China’s influence for the second year is seen as one of the threats to our national security.’
The most important aspects of any cooperation agreement with China are ‘common values of Western democracy of [the] European Union, basic principles on human rights, [and] rule of law, ”said Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė.
Reinhard Bütikofer, Member of the European Parliament representing Germany and chair of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with China, said at the conference that Europe must work not only with the United States, but also with like-minded countries to influence To counter China. the Indo-Pacific region such as Japan, Korea, India, Australia or New Zealand.
In addition, Bütikofer advised improving Europe’s relations with Taiwan by strengthening economic cooperation with the island, upgrading political relations with it, and showing solidarity when faced with provocations by the Chinese government, which all support efforts to include Taiwan in the work of international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), and to help Taiwan combat Chinese disinformation.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, founder of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation and former NATO secretary general, said that “fear of China’s reaction has put Europe’s relations in the freezer. ‘ He recommended reopening a political reopening of a bilateral investment agreement [with Taiwan]. ”
Bütikofer emphasizes the need to increase China’s competence in Europe by embarking on joint projects with Taiwan, such as the establishment of a TV channel in Mandarin for Europe.
In addition to transatlantic cooperation and cooperation with Indo-Pacific countries, Europe must also work with the United Kingdom, Rasmussen said.
U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, also stressed the importance of strong cooperation between Europe and the United States in order to protect the open system of rules and institutions that uphold individual rights and freedoms as as well as market-based economy.
Risch said economic competition with China is welcome, but only if it is fair. “We must demand greater reciprocity, and China’s compliance with the rule of law and international norms,” he said.
“We can not continue this pattern where we keep our promises to China, but it does not maintain their end of the bargain,” Risch said.
Combating economic coercion
‘In the late 1990s and early 2000s, most world leaders made a strategic assumption: we assumed that China would have to change with economic and political involvement. We thought that in time China would become more like Hong Kong. Unfortunately, under President Xi [Jinping]”Hong Kong has become more like China,” Rasmussen explained.
Even the approach that Europe used ten years ago to deal with China cannot be applied today because ‘the China of Xi Jinping is not the China of ten years ago, the China of Xi Jinping is more aggressive internally and more internationally’ , Bütikofer said. said. China is known for failing to meet its international obligations, and especially in Central and Eastern Europe, it has not kept its promises and is trying to bully countries, he added.
China is using economic coercion as a legitimate form of state capture to achieve its political goals, Risch said.
In order to force China to play by international rules and follow fair economic practices, Bütikofer advised a number of measures to be taken. This should include anti-dumping measures to prevent China from selling imported products at less than fair value, foreign investment investigations, anti-subsidy measures to prevent the importation of goods from Chinese-subsidized producers, coercive instruments to defend European countries against this. kind of coercion China imposed on Australia, and a ban on imports of products made by forced labor.
If we follow a course that builds an alliance between democracies and like-minded countries that want to share the defense of rules-based multilateralism, and if we do not trade human rights against economic goals or against climate, we can be successful in opposing China. to stand, ”said Bütikofer.
Rasmussen proposed to develop instruments similar to Article Five of NATO’s founding treaty, which defines the principle of collective defense, to address economic coercion used by the Chinese regime to silence its potential critics.
Article five provides that an attack on one member is to be regarded as an attack on all members of the Alliance.
Similarly, countries must all stand together to support producers who are threatened with increasing human rights abuses in China, Rasmussen said, adding that the instrument “should include a credit facility to endorse those who face coercion.”
Europe must also address its strategic vulnerability in critical supply chains or critical raw materials such as rare earth elements, Rasmussen said. “China has an almost monopoly on processing these materials that formed the DNA of the green and technological revolutions.”
Europe must consider all resources, including Greenland, where it wants to develop a green and sustainable raw materials industry and help build a technological alliance of democracies, Rasmussen said.
Risch emphasizes the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to universities in the United States for emerging technologies. It also creates opportunities for the CCP to spread its propaganda and suppress discussions on issues such as Tibet or Taiwan, Risch continued. He said he was looking forward to working with his European colleagues to address these issues.
Another area for potential cooperation between the United States and the EU could be the screening of the CCP’s foreign investment, Risch said.
Both, the United States and the EU must resolve disputes in their own trade relations to “present a united front against China’s anti-free market policies,” Risch said. “We also need to work to secure and strengthen critical infrastructure, from energy networks and supply chains to ports and submarine cables,” he adds.
Lithuania stands on Chinese government
Risch “praised the Lithuanian government for drawing attention to the risks of China’s investment in ports”.
On May 22, Lithuania withdraws from Beijing’s “17 + 1” platform, a Chinese initiative that the Baltic country joined in 2012.
The Chinese government officially launched the platform in April 2012 – initially the “16 + 1” platform, to intensify cooperation with 11 member states of the European Union in Central and Eastern Europe and five Balkan countries. The platform was renamed ’17 + 1 ‘after Greece joined the initiative in April 2019.
The initiative calls for participating countries to work with China in many areas, including finance, health, trade and technology.
On May 20, the Lithuanian parliament a resolution strongly condemned the Chinese regime’s massive, systematic and gross violations of human rights and genocide against the Uyghurs.
The resolution also emphasizes that the large-scale forced harvesting of organs from prisoners of conscience without permission, including practitioners of the spiritual Falun Gong movement, are intolerable crimes against humanity.
The bill called on the regime to stop these crimes and all human rights violations immediately, end the genocide of the Uyghurs and release all prisoners of conscience.
It also stated that the new national security legislation imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong undermined China’s international obligations under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, which called for Chinese rule.
Bütikofer praised Lithuania for daring to stand up for what [the] country believes in it, adding that it hopes’ other countries will follow Lithuania’s lead ‘and also withdraws from the ’17 + 1’ platform.
Frank Fang contributed to this report.