Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

Lithuania’s decision to allow Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in its own name was a mistake, the country’s president said on Tuesday as he reprimanded the country’s government for a move aimed at a diplomatic struggled with China unleashed.

Gitanas Nauseda told Lithuanian radio that the center-right government did not consult him last year before opening the island’s representative office in the name of Taiwan, rather than the city of Taipei – as in most European countries.

Beijing has accused Lithuania of violating its One China policy, under which it does not allow other countries to treat Taiwan as an independent country. It recalled its ambassador and downgraded Lithuania’s diplomatic presence in Beijing.

“I think it was not the opening of the Taiwanese office that was the fault, but the name, which was not coordinated with me. . . I believe the name was the spark, and now we have to deal with the consequences, “Nauseda tell I know Radio.

Since Taiwan and Lithuania agreed in August to open representative offices in each other’s capitals, China has increased pressure on Vilnius. Beijing not only banned imports from the Baltic country, but also tried to stop it manufacturers, including the German blue chip car parts supplier Continental, of the use of components manufactured in Lithuania.

Lithuania vacate its remaining diplomats from Beijing last month after China demanded that they hand in their diplomatic IDs to downgrade their status.

Both Nauseda and the Lithuanian government have insisted that they respect China’s policy on Taiwan, but that Vilnius has the right to establish economic and cultural relations with whomever it wishes.

“We also want relations with China that are based on the principle of mutual respect. Otherwise, the dialogue turns into one-sided ultimatums, requirements that are not acceptable in international relations, ”Nauseda tell the Financial Times in August.

Taipei sought to mitigate the blow to Lithuania from China’s economic retaliation measures. The state-owned Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corporation on Monday seized a shipment of 24,000 bottles of Lithuanian rum rejected by Chinese customs. Lithuanian beer brand Volfas Engelman’s sales in Taiwan increased 23-fold in 2021, driven by goodwill towards the Baltic country.

Taiwan’s new envoy also said that Taipei would put together a task force that would help Lithuania train semiconductor engineers and attract semiconductor investments.

Nauseda’s remarks Tuesday on Taiwan highlighted the fragile foreign policy unity that existed between the president, who is taking the lead on such issues, and the government led by Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, who beat Nauseda in the 2019 presidential election. crushes.

Nauseda has already clashed with Simonyte’s government over its Covid-19 policy, which erupted in open squabbles between the two in November after the president vetoed a bill to make unvaccinated workers pay for their own tests.

In addition to its deteriorating relations with China, Vilnius is under pressure from Russia and Belarus, which has sent illegal immigrants across the border in an effort to soften Lithuania’s position on sanctions.

Nauseda, representing Lithuania at EU summit, added Tuesday: “Unconventional measures have begun to be taken against Lithuania, and we need to be very active and make it very clear to the EU that this is an attack, a kind of pressure on one of the EU countries.”

Additional Reporting by Kathrin Hille in Taipei

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