US Restates ‘Ironclad Support’ as Lithuania Faces Challenges, Including From Beijing

By Danella Pérez Schmieloz
Danella Pérez Schmieloz
Danella Pérez Schmieloz
China Reporter
September 22, 2021 Updated: October 15, 2021

The United States reiterated its “ironclad support” to Lithuania on Sept. 15, as the Baltic nation resists coercion from Beijing due to its deepening relations with Taiwan.

The United States renewed its commitment to stand with Lithuania in the face of numerous challenges during a meeting between Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis in Washington, D.C.

During the meeting, the United States expressed solidarity with Lithuania, its NATO ally and EU partner, as it encounters “geopolitical challenges” that imperil “regional stability, security, and economic prosperity”, according to a U.S. government press release.

The release also declared the United States’ “ironclad support” for the Baltic nation while it confronts attempted coercion from the Chinese regime.

“We stand together, collective defense and security. We stand against economic coercion, including that being exerted by China, and we stand strongly for democracy,” Blinken said.

Moreover, Blinken and Landsbergis discussed ways to counter the Chinese Communist Party’s economic intimidation, talking over “efforts to assist Lithuania build supply chain resiliency and expand bilateral economic cooperation.”

The two leaders further echoed their pledge to strengthen U.S.-EU cooperation, to progress towards peace, prosperity, security, democracy, and human rights.

“It’s truly symbolic that we can reaffirm our commitment to defend democracy, liberty, human rights across the globe,” Landsbergis said.

The United States’ renewed support for its NATO ally comes after Lithuania agreed to allow Taiwan to open a representative office under its own name in July, rather than “Chinese Taipei.”

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regards Taiwan as part of its territory, despite the island nation having its own system of government, military, and currency.

In retaliation to the Lithuanian move, Beijing recalled its ambassador to Lithuania and threatened the country with “potential consequences” unless it changes its decision, in a statement released on Aug. 10.

This led to Lithuania recalling its ambassador from Beijing for consultations from Beijing.

Given Lithuania’s resistance, the CCP is attempting to hurt the nation’s economy.

The director of Lithuania’s State Food and Veterinary Service said China stopped approving new export permits for some Lithuanian businesses, according to the Baltic Times.

Meanwhile, state-owned Lithuanian Railways told Newsweek that several freight trains from China to the Baltic nation would be suspended until the middle of September.

The Global Times, China’s hawkish state-run media, published an editorial on Aug. 11, saying “China should join hands with Russia and Belarus, the two countries that border Lithuania, and punish it”, as it “needs to be taught a lesson.”

Targetting Taiwan

Due to the CCP’s endeavors to exclude Taiwan from the international relations landscape, the self-ruled island has only 15 diplomatic allies.

However, it has managed to develop informal ties with many nations by establishing representative offices, which serve as de facto embassies, though they do not award Taiwan diplomatic recognition. This is the case of the United States and Lithuania.

In the United States, Taiwan’s office took the name of Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States. But, according to The Financial Times, the Biden administration is contemplating the possibility of permitting the office to change its name to “Taiwan Representative Office.”

As a result, The Global Times targeted Taiwan with an aggressive editorial, which threatened to impose an “economic blockade” against Taiwan, as well as taking military action against the island.

But many experts see such talk, at this stage, as hot air.

Michael E. O’Hanlon, co-director at the Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology at the Brookings Institution, told The Epoch Times that, for now, the CCP would rather play “the nice guys” in order to expand its influence, so other countries agree to cooperate with China.

“In order to be successful economically, the Chinese regime can’t be seen as an ogre; they have to be patient, as the ogre can come later,” he said.

Nonetheless, he said, “there is still a high enough risk for [military action] to merit considerable attention and concern for the future.”

Danella Pérez Schmieloz