Beijing wants to punish Lithuania for its privileged relationship with Taiwan

Furious that Lithuania welcomes on its soil a trade representative office from Taiwan, and not from Taipei – named after the capital of the island -, as it has imposed the custom, China recalled Tuesday, August 10 its ambassador in this Baltic state, member of the European Union. The Lithuanian ambassador announced Wednesday that she was leaving China, at Beijing’s request. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Wednesday (August 11th) condemned a move that “Violates Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity and goes against the principle of one China”.

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This first act of Chinese retaliation comes a little less than a month after Taiwan and Lithuania announced their plans to open an office in their respective capitals, as Taiwan has in 57 countries with which the country does not maintain diplomatic relations. These are called “Taipei representative office” and act as de facto embassies: as for the Olympic Games, where the athletes of the island compete under the name of “Chinese Taipei”, they are maintain the fiction of one China – since Taiwan’s official name is the Republic of China, recognized by fifteen small countries, including the Vatican – while allowing the island to exist as a separate entity from that of China .

Adapted economic partner

In one editorial published on August 11, the Chinese nationalist daily Global Times castigates a “Extremely reckless behavior” from Vilnius, and proposes that “China and Russia cooperate to punish Lithuania”: “If Lithuania persists, China must prepare for a breakdown in relations. In addition, China should join Russia and Belarus, the two countries bordering Lithuania, in punishing it ”, we read. The day before, the newspaper’s editor, Hu Xijin, had described Lithuania as a “Crazy and tiny country filled with geopolitical anxieties” to the boot of the United States.

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The choice by Vilnius to agree to name this representation “Taiwanese office” while risking the wrath of China is the result of several considerations: Lithuania is one of the countries of Northern and Eastern Europe whose eyes have turned. disillusioned, on the occasion of the Covid-19 epidemic, vis-à-vis the Chinese giant, and who have approached Taiwan, even if they do not formally recognize it from a diplomatic point of view. Not only does Taiwan share their democratic values, but the island is proving to be a more suitable economic partner in terms of scale and level of development. Moreover, China’s retaliation against such established European countries as Sweden in recent years has shown them how unpredictable it can be.

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