The European Union has launched a dispute with the World Trade Organization against Communist China over its “discriminatory trade practices” against Lithuania.
Following the bold move from Lithuania to open up a defacto Taiwanese embassy in Vilnius last summer, the Chinese Communist Party has attempted to use its considerable economic weight to punish the small Eastern European nation. China has not only blockaded all products made in Lithuania from its market but has also prevented imports from other EU member states if any components were produced in the Baltic state.
On Thursday, the EU Commission announced that it has filed a case with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the communist regime, claiming that its actions against Lithuania are unlawful and that they threatened the integrity of the bloc’s Single Market.
Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “Launching a WTO case is not a step we take lightly. However, after repeated failed attempts to resolve the issue bilaterally, we see no other way forward than to request WTO dispute settlement consultations with China.
“The EU is determined to act as one and act fast against measures in breach of WTO rules, which threaten the integrity of our Single Market. We are in parallel pursuing our diplomatic efforts to deescalate the situation.”
The Commission said that it had built up evidence against “various types of Chinese restrictions” since Beijing began imposing restrictions on Lithuanian goods in December — shortly after a delegation of Lithuanian and other Baltic politicians visited Taiwan.
Aside from launching the dispute with the WTO, the EU has put forward an “Anti-Coercion Instrument” which it says is aimed at alleviating economic pressure imposed by foreign actors such as China.
Responding to the move, Beijing’s chief ‘Wolf Warrior’ diplomat, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that the dispute between Lithuania and China was a bilateral one and therefore should not affect EU-Sino relations, adding that the EU needs to “distinguish right from wrong and be alert to Lithuania’s attempt to kidnap China-EU relations.”
However, seemingly contradicting the official line, the state-run communist mouthpiece The Global Times claimed that German and Chinese companies are “abandoning Lithuania” in the wake of the “Baltic country’s mistake on the Taiwan question continues to spark tension with China and pose risks for global businesses.”
German companies siding with Communist China over Lithuania are destroying the EU’s Single Market, a leading MP has told Breitbart News. https://t.co/mG7Doa9o81
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) January 23, 2022
In an interview with Breitbart London conducted earlier this month, Lithuanian MP Matas Maldeikis said that while his country anticipated China to react with sanctions against Lithuania for opening the Taiwanese Representative Office, it was not expected that Beijing would target other nations, particularly Germany.
“It’s a very big challenge for us, I won’t lie, because German business is very important to us, but we hope that our stance on China won’t affect our business relationships within the European market,” he said.
German companies have reportedly begun pressuring Lithuania to back down from its support of democratic Taiwan, with the German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce calling on the Baltic state to come to a “constructive solution” with the CCP.
It is believed that German car companies have been particularly impacted by the blockade against Lithuanian goods, which is said to have cost the industry hundreds of millions of euros in profits. High-profile car manufacturers such as Volkswagen and BMW are deeply integrated with the Chinese market, with both facing accusations of profiting off of slave labour in the concentration camp region of Xinjiang.
Ultimately, Maldeikis said that the “European Union has to move their production chains back to the European Union, and the United States should do the same.
“What Trump was talking about, he was right, you have to have to take back production to your country, it’s jobs but it is also a question of national security.
“Russia doesn’t work by itself, China doesn’t work by itself, we are feeding those guys and we are giving money to them to build tanks and build rockets to fight against us, I don’t understand this logic, it has to end.”
Lithuania has no intention of backing down from its struggle with Communist China or its support for Taiwan, an MP has told Breitbart News. https://t.co/nXLd3NNtaO
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) January 8, 2022
Mattas said that authoritarian regimes such as China are like “iron”, in that they may appear to be strong from the outside but are incapable of bending to meet challenges and therefore “just break”.
He argued that China’s actions against Lithuania were born out of fear rather than a position of strength, saying that the communist regime likely realises the precarious nature of its rule, in light of the looming disasters, such as an impending demographic collapse and the possibility of the real estate bubble finally bursting.
The move from the European Union on Thursday is just the first step in triggering a WTO dispute, calling for a “request for consultations” in which China will be asked to provide information on the restrictions it has imposed on Lithuanian products.
Should the CCP fail to come to a “satisfactory solution” to the dispute within sixty days, the EU said that it “may request” for the WTO to make a ruling on the matter.
Under the leadership of the Clinton and Bush administrations — and supported by then-Senator Joe Biden — China entered the WTO in December of 2001. It was argued at the time that by allowing the country to have full access to global markets, the influx of capitalism would liberalise the communist nation. However, some, including former President Donald Trump, have argued that China only used the West’s trading systems to enrich itself and had no intention of ever becoming a free nation.
Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka