The foreign ministers of the Baltic states said Europe needed to stand up to “illegal” Chinese pressure on Lithuania and foreign companies operating there, or risk damaging the international trading system.
Gabrielius Landsbergis told the Financial Times that China has escalated the conflict over Lithuania’s relationship with Taiwan, including Harassment of European companies Use components made in Lithuania. He said he would brief EU foreign ministers on the harassment at meetings on Thursday and Friday.
“Now Europe has to give a very clear answer. Europe has to say that this is not the way to treat the single market. This is a test of the rules-based international trade order. Europe has to stand up,” Landsbergis added.
Lithuania is a center geopolitics After Vilnius allowed Taiwan to open a representative office in its own name, instead of the usual shunning of calling it the capital city Taipei.
China reacted violently, recall its ambassador and degraded status The Lithuanian embassy in Beijing intercepted Lithuanian goods at its border and warned European companies such as German auto parts maker Continental not to use parts from the Baltic states.
China demands that governments deny Taiwan any treatment that implies sovereignty. Beijing opposes any use of the country’s official nickname, the Republic of China, or its geographic name, Taiwan, which it sees as an attempt by Taipei to pursue de jure independence.
Landsbergis and other Lithuanian officials insist that Vilnius complies with Beijing’s policies but is free to establish commercial and cultural ties with Taiwan.
“Lithuania has done nothing wrong, nothing illegal, we have not violated any international obligations. In fact, the reverse is also true. What we did to our company, unilaterally changing the name of our embassy, ??is now done to European companies things, all of which are likely to be illegal,” said the Lithuanian foreign minister.
Taiwan tries to build a $1 billion credit fund for Lithuanian-Taiwan projects and $200 million investment fund 120 containers blocked in Chinese ports were purchased in the Baltic states.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said last week that it was “MistakeName the office after Taiwan rather than Taipei. Landsbergis said the administration was “adjusting” its position with the president because both sides “see the whole situation in a similar way,” but he gave no details.
Landsbergis said China’s “unprecedented” harassment of companies in other countries showed the “urgent need to develop counter-coercion tools” in Europe and elsewhere.
“It was a test for the EU, but also for the West. As a Western society after World War II, we felt obligated to introduce a rules-based trade order. It worked. Now we see it being tested,” he added.
Lithuania is facing pressure not only from China, but also from China. Belarus Russia threatens its eastern border. Landsbergis calls Moscow a ‘geopolitical disruptor’ and says it’s causing ripples Operations at the Ukrainian border Influenced Lithuania and its neighbors.
He said Vilnius was concerned about any possible concessions to Russia and the possibility that Moscow could move its troops from Ukraine to Belarus, which is closer to Lithuania.
“There needs to be a very serious answer to Putin,” Landsbergis said, stressing his belief that if the situation escalates, NATO will strengthen security in the Baltic.
Written by FT trade expert Alan Beattie and delivered to your inbox every Monday, Trade Secrets is the FT’s must-read newsletter on changes in international trade and globalisation. register here