Lithuania last week drew the wrath of the Chinese regime for allowing Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in Vilnius using its own name. In response, Beijing recalled its envoy to Lithuania, and demanded Vilnius recall its counterpart. The Chinese regime considers Taiwan as part of its territory, despite the island being governed as a separate entity for decades.
Beijing has also moved to restrict some trade with the Baltic country, according to local media reports.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement on Aug. 24, condemned any attempts to use trade as a political tool for retaliation, adding that Taipei would work to establish a more resilient supply chain with Vilnius.
“Taiwan and Lithuania are friends who share common values of freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights and rule-of-law,” the foreign ministry said.
The island will work with Lithuania, as well as other democratic allies, to resist “all coercive attempts by authoritarian regimes,” it added.
In the wake of the diplomatic row, some Lithuanian businesses have found themselves cut off from the Chinese market.
Beijing has stopped approving new export permits for Lithuanian food even though no official notifications had been received, Mantas Staskevicius, director of the country’s State Food and Veterinary Service told The Baltic Times on Aug. 22.
Lithuania’s talks with China on export permits for feed, non-animal products, and edible offal have stopped, the official told the outlet.
China’s hawkish state-run media Global Times warned on the same day that the country’s businesses may experience obstacles from Beijing, including restrictions on agricultural exports and imports of raw materials. It said Lithuania “must pay the price.”
The Chinese regime has also halted direct freight trains to Lithuania, local media reported, although there has not yet been any official confirmation. Lithuanian national rail company told Taiwan state-owned news agency, Central News Agency, that customers informed it that several trains from China could be halted from the end of August or September. But Lithuanian Railways said it hasn’t received any notification from Beijing.
China Railway Group has denied the claim.
On Saturday, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a phone call with Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, reaffirmed the United States’ “ironclad” support of the Baltic state in the face of the regime’s coercive behavior.
Landsbergis, in a Twitter post on Monday, described the country’s experience as a “#TestforTheWest.”Also on Monday, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) applauded Lithuania’s diplomatic ties with Taiwan. He also mentioned that Lithuania may suffer “sustained, furious, and serious retaliation” from Beijing over its support for Taiwan, while assuring Washington’s support.