Though China threatened Lithuania by a trade embargo, the European country stood tall and is set to open its embassy in Taiwan by the end of 2021.
Lithuania is one of three Baltic States and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Lithuania shares land borders with Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) to the southwest. Lithuania covers an area of 65,300 km with a population of 2.8 million. Its capital and largest city are Vilnius. It is in the news in the world as it has challenged China's dictatorial, authoritarian national power by recognizing Taiwan.
Lithuania was threatened by a trade embargo and China downgraded its embassy, but democratic Lithuania stood firm and challenged China at its core. The world witnessed, for the first time, victory surrender of Chinese might in the Baltic. Lithuania is a developed country and high in the Human Development Index. It ranks favourably in terms of civil liberties, press freedom and internet freedom. Lithuania is a member of the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Eurozone, the Nordic Investment Bank, Schengen Agreement, NATO and OECD. The People's Republic of China had an embassy in Vilnius, while Lithuania had one in Beijing. Modern diplomatic relations between Lithuania and the People's Republic of China were officially established on 14 September 1991, following the official restoration of Lithuanian independence.
In August 2021, Taiwan opened its representative office in Vilnius under the name of Taiwan (the first under this name in Europe). The Lithuanian office in Taipei is set to open by the end of 2021. Taiwan's new office will be headed by Eric Huang, who is currently Taipei's chief of mission in neighbouring Latvia. China objects to the use of the word "Taiwanese" in the name of the office in Lithuania. China got angry and started to bully Lithuania for its acts. It tried to scare, threaten, put trade embargo, suspend rail service between the two countries, pressure through Lithuania's neighbours and China's like-minded countries not to open an office in Taipei. China went to the extent of recalling its ambassador in Vilnius, Shen Zhifei, and demanded that Lithuania recall its ambassador in Beijing, Diana Mickevičienė. Relations between the PRC and Lithuania were downgraded to the level of chargé d 39 affairs on 21 November 2021.
China has put increasing pressure on other countries to limit cooperation with Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen was first elected in 2016. Only 15 countries now have formal diplomatic ties with the island. Many other countries maintain de facto embassies in Taipei, including Lithuania's fellow European Union member states, Britain, Australia and the United States.
So a big call has begun in the World and Europe to fight injustice committed on Lithuania by Chinese coercion. The classic Chinese saying: "Killing a chicken to scare the monkey", where you tame Lithuania, so EU remains neutral? The EU and its trans-Atlantic partners want to respond with a policy akin to NATO's Article 5 common defence commitment. Call it "coercion against one is coercion against all." Lithuania's second challenge to China was to withdraw this year from the so-called 17+1 cooperation agreement between China and Central and Eastern European countries. That informal arrangement promised Chinese infrastructure investments in the region but was increasingly used by China to maximize its diplomatic influence.
China's acts and omissions on independent nations who don't adhere to its whims and fancies is seen when Australia's trade with China suffered because of calling for a review of the origins of COVID-19. Canadian citizens have been arrested because Canada adheres to due process in potential extradition to the United States. European officials and private entities have been sanctioned for highlighting China's human rights violations in Xinjiang.
India improved its relations with the world with the strong Leadership of PM Narendra Modi, and China is doing mass army build-up in the border areas, creating artificial villages, forced floods, supporting anti-India forces like non-state actors and altering boundaries unilaterally.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has urged European unity in the face of Chinese retaliation. Diplomatically, nations with ties to Taiwan should explicitly include that word in the titles of their representative entities and should allow Taiwan reciprocal usage. The United States is considering such a change. Further, the EU should consider recommendations laid out in an April report from the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee supporting Taiwan.
Finally, one can say that Lithuania China dispute should not be looked at as a minor matter. As Taiwan, one of the Torchbearers of Democracy in East Asia, is seeing a continuous transfer of power after Elections and is acting very responsibly in the world to safeguard Human Rights, Freedom of the press, Individual Liberty & dissent. Taiwan's foreign ministry said the opening of the "Taiwan Representative Office in Lithuania" would "charter a new and promising course, will cherish and promote this new friendship based on our shared values."
The beginning from Lithuania can take forward to the Czech Republic and Slovakia as they also have pushed for closer ties with Taiwan. In 2019, Prague cancelled a sister-city agreement with Beijing and signed one with Taipei. A high-profile visit to Taiwan last year by Czech senate leader Milos Vystrcil infuriated China.
Last month a delegation of Taiwanese officials visited Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania, sparking anger from Beijing. A seven-member delegation from the European Parliament made a historic trip to Taiwan. In May, Lithuania announced it was leaving China's 17+1 cooperation forum with central and eastern European states, calling it "divisive".
Researchers and Diplomats agree that NATO should form a new partnership with willing Asian partners negatively impacted by China, including those with ongoing relationships such as Japan and others such as India. This new "NATO-Asia Forum" would include liaison
offices, centres of excellence, joint military exercises, and enhanced intelligence cooperation.
This can check authoritarian military regimes' one side policy and give justice to the small-medium and Island Countries. It is for India to think of recognizing Taiwan. China openly supports Regional to Multilateral organization Terrorists, Originations and Nations, which act against India's National Security interests. As Taiwan is a democratic nation with a shared history and culture, the coming together of Indian Civilization with Taiwan can heed rich dividends from technology investments, joint productions and shared values. But the acts of Lithuania have to be lauded as it has taken China's mighty military authoritarian Government and has not bulged to dictates of China. For now, democracy has won. Will it light through Taiwan in the world has to be seen for now China is under the check of democracy?