Brussels (Brussels Morning) As China downgraded its diplomatic relations with Lithuania over its decision to bolster its ties with Taiwan, Vilnius called on the EU to brace against Beijing’s economic “coercion” by increasing its involvement in the Indo-Pacific.
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, said on Wednesday that his country will adapt to the “short-term” economic pain dealt to it by China in retaliation over Lithuania allowing Taipei to open a representative office in the country using the name “Taiwan”. Use of the name is anathema to Beijing, which officially treats the island as its own breakaway province.
According to Landsbergis, China sought to inflict economic pain on the country in a variety of ways, including cutting trade links with Vilnius. “In the short term, it is painful for any country when your contracts are cut”, the Lithuanian minister observed. “But it is short term, because markets adapt. Companies adapt.”
The foreign minister also claimed, when interviewed by Reuters in Washington on Wednesday, that China had even gone as far as pressuring companies in third countries to stop doing business with Lithuania.
“So much of what we produce is partially produced with, or within, China. This is why we need to find ways to create supply chains and how to make them more resilient so they can withstand this coercion, the cutting of contracts, the secondary sanctions”, Landsbergis said. Lithuania would provide a model for other countries on how to withstand such pressure, he vowed.
Landsbergis also called on the European nations to become more involved in the Indo-Pacific in order to enhance their economic security. “We have to understand that every country now is involved in the Indo-Pacific”, he asserted. Some NATO allies are already taking on big responsibilities in the region, he pointed out, which means that EU countries should at least have an understanding of what’s going on, and probably play some part in it.