Taiwan plans to invest $200 million in Lithuania, following increased hostilities between Lithuania and China.
In the latest development in the row between Eastern-bloc nation Lithuania and communist China, Taiwan, formally the Republic of China has pledged to invest $200 million in the European nation.
Eric Huang the head of the Taiwanese representative office in Lithuania has said that Taiwan is setting up an economic fund “with an initial funding of $200 million” for investment in Lithuanian industries that are “strategic for both Lithuania and Taiwan”.
The fund plans to invest in Lithuanian markets such as semiconductor, laser, biotechnology industries with the first investments expected this year in 2022.
Huang has stated that the fund is in place to strengthen and develop ties between Lithuania and Taiwan – who are both currently clashing with China.
Relations have soured between Lithuania and China after Lithuania broke diplomatic custom by allowing the Taiwanese embassy in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, to bear the name Taiwan rather than the Chinese name ‘Taipei’, which angered the Chinese government.
In response to the opening of the Vilnius embassy in July 2021 China recalled their ambassador from Lithuania and also expelled the Lithuanian ambassador in Beijing, accusing Lithuania of violating their ‘One China’ policy. The ‘One China’ policy demands that nations do not acknowledge Taiwan as an independent entity and instead treat it as an extension of China.
China Downgrades Diplomatic Ties with Lithuania Over Taiwan Embassy Row https://t.co/kwhrtlJFFQ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 21, 2021
China has also been accused of blocking Lithuania exports to China by the European Union in retaliation, following their “downgrading” of diplomatic ties.
Speaking to German paper Die Welt the European Commission for Trade’s vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis confirmed that they believe “imports from Lithuania are no longer processed by Chinese customs”. Dombrovskis also said that this affects the entire European Union as “apparently, the Chinese customs also do not clear goods from other EU countries if they contain parts that come from Lithuania”.
Dombrovskis also warned that the number of blocked European goods in Chinese ports was “increasing every day”, and as a result the EU is “collecting evidence” to “take action against China before the WTO [World Trade Organisation], should it be necessary”.
Zhao Lijian, China’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson has however dismissed these allegations and branded them as the West making “groundless accusations against China”. Lijian asserted that Lithuania bore the “sole responsibility for the severe difficulties in China-Lithuania relations” and that if Lithuanian companies wanted to resolve any issues they had exporting to China they should “report to competent Chinese authorities through normal channels”.
The escalation of the situation prompted Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda to call the opening of the embassy a “mistake”, and he claims the approval of the Taiwan name was not “coordinated” with him. Nauseda also blamed the embassy’s name as “the key factor that now strongly affects our relations with China”.
I disagree with my President @GitanasNauseda. I think supporting democracy in Taiwan is the right thing to do even if it's hard. The Lithuanian President, like me, should be proud to serve the country that stood up to the threats of the Chinese Communist Party. #StandWithTaiwan
— Matas Maldeikis MP 🇱🇹 (@MatasMaldeikis) January 4, 2022
Some Lithuanian Members of Parliament (MP) have however critiqued the President caving into pressure from China.
Matas Maldeikis MP tweeted out in support of Taiwan saying: “I disagree with my President Gitanas Nauseda. I think supporting democracy in Taiwan is the right thing to do even if it’s hard. The Lithuanian President, like me, should be proud to serve the country that stood up to the threats of the Chinese Communist Party. #StandWithTaiwan”.
Dovilė Šakalienė another MP – in response to the news of Taiwan attempting to counterbalance the effects of the alleged blockade on Lithuanian goods by buying 20,000 bottles of Lithuanian rum – tweeted, “[This is] Friends standing up for each other against coercion from Communist PRC [People’s Republic of China]. Domestic disputes shall not change the consistent LT [Lithuanian] foreign policy: our security depends upon solidarity, engagement of partners and protecting democracy”.
Šakalienė has additionally said that she feels a connection with Taiwan as both Lithuania and Taiwan have experienced the horrors of communism and are currently bordered with “bloody authoritarian regimes” – that being China and Russia.
Other European nations have also weighed in on the Taiwan debate with Pavel Novotny, mayor of a district in Prague, denouncing the Chinese Foreign Ministry as a gang of “unmannered rude clowns”, after China attempted to intimidate the Czech Republic following a 90-person Czech delegation visit to Taiwan.
The United States’s Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has also reaffirmed support for Lithuania saying that the US will “push back against the PRC’s coercive diplomatic and economic behaviour” in regards to the alleged interference in Lithuanian exports to China.