Offer comes as the Baltic nation faces retaliation from Beijing for allowing representative office under the name Taiwan.
Taiwan has promised to set up a $ 200 million fund to invest in Lithuania and open up its markets to the Baltic nation in response to China’s economic pressures.
The offer comes as Lithuania faces unofficial trade barriers and a downgrade of diplomatic ties with China after allowing a representative office to be opened in its capital under the name Taiwan, a move that Beijing considers a violation considered from its one-China principle.
Taiwan will use the fund to invest in the fields of semiconductors, lasers, biotechnologies and research in Lithuania, Eric Huang, head of the Taiwanese representative office in the capital Vilnius, said in a press conference on Wednesday. It will also send a team to evaluate Lithuania’s aspirations to develop a semiconductor industry, he said.
“It is time for us to help you with your problems,” Taiwanese Deputy Foreign Minister Harry Ho-jen Tseng said at the same press conference.
Lithuania has been trying to build closer economic ties with Taiwan and expects to gain a foothold in Taiwan’s semiconductor sector since last year, when it abandoned the Chinese-led 17 + 1 format, a group of EU states using China to get involved and the block.
‘Unprecedented economic coercion’
Taiwan’s National Development Council and Lithuania’s Ministry of Economy have yet to discuss the details of the investment fund, which will be funded by Taiwan’s National Development Fund. An even larger investment fund backed by Taiwan’s central bank is in the works, Huang said.
On the trade front, Taiwan is also working to divert about 120 containers of Lithuanian products brought to a halt at Chinese ports and to open up the island’s market to Lithuanian dairy and grain, Huang said. A Taiwanese company also bought 20,400 bottles of Lithuanian rum that China refused to let into the country, according to the South China Morning Post.
“Taiwan is committed to speeding up the process for Lithuania as Lithuania faces such unprecedented economic coercion in international trade history,” Huang said.
The dispute caused political tensions in Lithuania, where President Gitanas Nauseda criticized the government on Tuesday for opening the office with Taiwan, saying that using the name of the island democracy in the label was a mistake.
Tseng defended the decision: “Yes, there is a meaning in the name,” he said. “Taipei only represents a city or a capital. By using Taiwanese, it is clearer in its identity. “